23 September 2011

My WAC football picks for Sept. 24

New Mexico State (1-2) at San Jose State (0-3, 0-1 WAC): SJSU by 7. The two teams meet for the first time since October 30, 2010 when NMSU scored a touchdown with 0 seconds left to beat SJSU 29-27 in Las Cruces, N.M. While NMSU has not appeared in a bowl since 1960 and has yet to have an above-.500 season since joining the WAC in 2005, SJSU has a better track record of: 3 bowl appearances in the 1980s (as a member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association including winning the 1986 California Bowl), winning the 1990 California Bowl (while in the now-defunct Big West Conference of football), and winning the 2006 New Mexico Bowl (as a WAC school). Since joining the Western Athletic Conference in 1996, SJSU has had three above-.500 seasons: 2000, 2006, and 2008. Additionally, from 2005-2010, SJSU is 5-1 against NMSU (the 1 being that ugly loss in 2010). Oh, if you wanna see highlights of that game, the New Mexico State Aggies YouTube channel has them:

One cause for concern though is NMSU's unlikely victory last week over the Big 10 team Minnesota that included the seizure of Minnesota Golden Gophers coach Jerry Kill (who was taken to hospital). Additionally, NMSU sophomore quarterback Andrew Manley has a 59% completion rate...higher than Matt Faulkner's 53%, and has passed for 892 yards compared to San Jose State's 477 among 3. However, SJSU has the edge in rushing, averaging 4.0 yards per carry in 367 yards and 4 touchdowns in contrast with NMSU's paltry 1.7 yards per carry in 155 with just 1 TD. While SJSU has yet to score a touchdown by reception (they almost did last week until that interception) in 477 receiving yards with an average 10.4 per catch, in 892 yards and 14.4 per catch NMSU has scored 6. NMSU's receivers are going to be the Aggies' driving force, and SJSU's defensive line needs to watch out and restrict yardage and break up as many passes as they can.

Elsewhere in WAC football...
Fresno State (0-2) at Idaho (1-2): Idaho by 4. A tough one, as both teams have extremely close stats in rushing, passing, and receiving (FS, ID). The Fresno State Bulldogs beat the Idaho Vandals 23-20 in 2010 at Fresno. Idaho needs to look out because Fresno's running back Robbie Rouse has been on the loose all season with an average 4.6 yards per carry in 365 and 3 of the 4 rushing touchdowns by the Bulldogs. Ryan Bass, the Vandals' RB, average 4.0 yards each carry in only 117, and his longest run was an 18-yard TD. Idaho, however, has a slight edge in receiving with six TDs in 666 (EVIL) yards vs. Fresno's 4 TDs in 639.

Louisiana Tech (1-2) at Mississippi State (SEC) (1-2): Mississippi State by 9. Don't let Miss State's 1-2 start fool you: the Southeastern Conference Bulldogs are coming off a breakout 2010 season that ended with a blowout victory over the Big 10 Michigan Wolverines in the Gator Bowl. Meanwhile, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs...dang, this is the Battle of the (southern) Bulldogs right here!...have suffered two close losses to southern-region Conference USA teams: 19-17 at Southern Mississippi and 35-34 vs. Houston. In both games, La. Tech blew leads in 4th quarter. Mississippi State's 694 rushing yards far outweighs La. Tech's 522 and will play a greater role for the Bulldogs' offense than La. Tech QB Nick Isham's greater passing depth of 693 yards vs. Miss. State's Chris Relf at 493.

Nevada (1-1, 1-0 WAC) at Texas Tech (Big 12) (2-0): Texas Tech by 14. Another WAC team goes to the football-loving state? And it's sure telling how the defending WAC champions couldn't even play a BLOWOUT game against the worst WAC team of 2010 (no I'm not still gloating I'm just observing). The Wolf Pack's Tyler Lantrip has NOTHING (57.1% completions in 331 yards) against the Texas Tech Red Raiders' Seth Doege (81.8%, 727). These two teams diverge greatly in advantages of rushing (Nevada 544 yards and 4 TDs, Texas Tech 335 and 5) and receiving (Texas Tech 794 and 10, Nevada 395 and 1). In their last meeting, Texas Tech beat Nevada 35-19 in Reno on September 6, 2008. And that was when Colin Kaepernick (now with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers) was the starting QB!

Colorado State (Mountain West Conference) (2-1) at Utah State (1-1): Utah State by 6. The Utah State Aggies, otherwise not an extremely well-storied football team, showed some promise in its opener when it held 1st-half leads against the defending national champs Auburn Tigers but lost 42-38. Colorado State has had 10 bowl appearances since 1992 (the latest being a win in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl). (Before 1999, Colorado State was in the WAC.) Utah State, since 1998 and through 4 affiliations (Big West, independent, Sun Belt, and now WAC) has never had an above-.500 season since losing the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl. In both rushing and receiving, Utah State (6.7 and 12.2 vs. Colorado State's 4.2 and 8.8), and in rushing, Utah State has produced twice as many TDs as Co. State has.

UC Davis (I-AA) (1-2) at Hawaii (1-2): Hawaii by 10. Bummer. ESPN.com lacks stats for the UC Davis Aggies. Of course I-AA teams are easy wins for I-A WAC teams (unless it's SJSU in 2010 vs. UC Davis...)

No comments: