Two .500 teams are going to play in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. Utah State has made several bowl games recently, while New Mexico State hasn’t, but one of the teams will be leaving with a bowl win. Here is the 2017 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl preview:
New Mexico State Aggies (6-6)
New Mexico State is going to their first bowl game since 1960. The Aggies beat the teams they should beat, but were not able to beat a bowl eligible team this season. They may not have many good wins, but getting to a bowl game
for the first time since 1960 is a feat in and of itself.
The Aggies score 29.2 points per game, but don’t do much damage on the ground. They average 101.2 yards on the ground per game. Larry Rose III is the leading rusher with 807 yards and nine touchdowns. Jason Huntley has also done some damage with 403 rushing yards.
Passing the ball has been the strength of the team this season. They rank fourth in the country in passing yards per game with 352.6. Quarterback Tyler Rogers has 3,825 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions on 62.3% completion. His go-to-guy is Jaleel Scott, who has 73 catches for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns.
Their defense has been an issue with 30.5 points allowed per game. They rank 65th against the run and 77th against the pass. Sophomore defensive lineman Cedric Wilcotts II has 8.5 sacks on the season to lead the team. With the defense being sub par, Wilcotts will need to pressure the quarterback.
Utah State Aggies (6-6)
Utah State got to six wins as well and didn’t beat a bowl eligible team either. This is their sixth bowl appearance in seven opportunities since 2011. They missed a bowl game last season, so getting back to it has the program going in the right direction.
The offense averages 31 points per game and 170 rushing yards per game. LaJuan Hunt has 695 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns to lead the team. Other players chip in, but if they are running the ball, odds are it is in Hunt’s or a quarterback’s hands.
Kent Myers started the year as the starter, but that title now goes to Jordan Love. He has thrown for 1,377 passing yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, which is a solid start to a career for a freshman. The ball is spread out in the passing game, but Ron’quavian Tarver and Dax Raymond produce the most. Tarver has 472 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, while Raymond has 414 receiving yards and one touchdown.
They have an average defense that allows 27 points per game. Utah State gives up a lot of yards on the ground and rank 116th against the run. The Aggies are much better against the pass and rank 19th in that category. Senior defensive back Jalen Davis has five interceptions on the season.
Tyler Rogers is going up a good passing defense, but should be able to do a solid job against Utah State. Utah State hasn’t been tested by a passing attack quite like New Mexico State’s. Rogers will lead the Agggies to victory for the first time since 1960.
New Mexico State Aggies 33 Utah State Aggies 23
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