It’s senior day at Lavell Edwards Stadium, and the Cougars are set to take on the New Mexico State Aggies. The Cougars will be led by Jake Heaps, who will start for the first time since losing his starting role to Riley Nelson during the Utah State game on September 30th. Riley Nelson was injured in last week’s rout of the Idaho Vandals.
2004 was the last year that the Aggies beat two FBS teams. In 2005, they didn’t win a single game. But these Aggies are improving. This season is easily the best for them since that 2004, 5 win season. NMSU already has 4 wins, and they have all come against FBS opponents: Minnesota, New Mexico, Idaho, and an exciting shootout last week against Fresno State. While none of these are a powerhouse, the Aggies have accomplished a lot. They have three games remaining, and only need two wins to become bowl eligible.
BYU already knows that it’s destined for the Armed Forces Bowl, and they have already guaranteed themselves at least the same record as they ended up with last year. The game today should serve as a tune-up game for the Cougars, who will make the long trip to Hawaii to face the warriors on December 3rd. As Jake Heaps may be the starter for the Hawaii game as well, it will be especially important for him to settle into that role today.
Keys to the game
Jake Heaps. I would like to see Jake have a phenomenal day against the Aggies. I only have two requests: break 300 yards passing, and have no INTs. I’m sure that we can run all over the Aggies, whose opponents have averaged 207 rushing yards against them, but Jake is a passer, and I really want to see him have a breakout passing game, one that will build his confidence going into that Hawaii game.
Receivers. The obvious counterparts of that passing game. For Heaps to have a great game through the air, his receivers have to make some catches. Cody Hoffman has been making some amazing grabs this season. I’m not sure why he and Ross Apo haven’t stretched out more defenses for long TDs this year, but this is as good a game as any for them to start.
Defense. The Aggies are no slouch offensively, as they average 29 points per game, on about 300 passing yards and 120 rushing yards per game. Even in their losses, it is common for them to score 3-5 touchdowns. The Aggies basically have one main RB, in Kenny Turner, who more often than not has ended up with 100+ yards in games this season. They are led by senior QB Matt Christian, who has the ability to throw for 300+ yards per game, and can run the ball when needed. The Cougars will likely stick with their usual gameplan of taking away the run, and forcing the QB to make the throws necessary to win the game. However, last week the Cougars did just the opposite to the Idaho Vandals, allowing only 50 passing yards, while giving up 191 on the ground.
While the Aggies are sure to put up a fight, the Cougars should outpace them and take this game out of reach fairly quickly. I like the Cougars in this game 45-17.