South Alabama vs. New Mexico State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Jaguars and Aggies on Saturday in Mobile, AL.
South Alabama vs. New Mexico State Game Preview
When: Saturday, Dec. 3 – 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
TV Broadcast: ESPN3
The Jaguars (5-6, 1-6 Sun Belt) are preparing to play their biggest game of the season, as bowl eligibility is on the line in the regular season finale. The last time we saw this squad in action, the Jaguars suffered a post-Thanksgiving loss to Idaho, which received 142 yards and three touchdown runs from Isaiah Saunders. This has been a very odd season for Joey Jones and Co., as the Jaguars beat Mississippi State and San Diego State but have looked very average since and have just one league win.
Meanwhile, Doug Martin’s Aggies (3-8, 2-5) are closing out their season on the road after having lost five of their last six, including a 37-7 setback to Appalachian State in their latest game. New Mexico State is winless on the road in 2016.
A win for South Alabama at Ladd-Peebles Stadium would mean the team could play in a bowl game for the second time in school history. A loss would send the Jaguars home for the holidays at 5-7 for the second straight year. They received an NCAA waiver to count two wins over FCS teams toward bowl-eligiblity. USA’s FCS wins were over Nicholls in overtime and a rout of Presbyterian, which was quickly scheduled after LSU canceled its game with the Jaguars in order to make up a postponed game with Florida.
What To Know About South Alabama
The Jaguars have been an up-and-down squad capable of beating more talented teams, which makes the position they are in even more curious. Based on how we saw them play early in the year, it would have been easy to envision them playing to move up in the bowl pecking order and not just fighting for eligibility. The passing game and secondary have shined at times, so expect those two areas to be strengths against New Mexico State this week. It also helps that this is a home game, as the team is 0-4 in road games since winning in Starkville.
What to Know About New Mexico State
The Aggies managed only 92 yards through the air and 148 on the ground in the loss to Appalachian State, which put up over 600 total yards in the contest. Quarterback Conner Cramer ran for 74 yards on nine carries, but he was only 10 of 24 through the air with two interceptions. Regular starting quarterback Tyler Rogers (2,588 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions) missed the Appalachian State game due to an elbow injury and is doubtful for this one. This is a much different passing attack without Rogers, as the Aggies were averaging over 250 yards per game with him at QB. So his loss is huge. Also not helping matters is the Aggies’ porous pass defense.
Offense: South Alabama. Both units have similar numbers, but NMSU’s starting quarterback is doubtful for this game, so there would be a big dropoff in the passing game for Aggies.
Defense: South Alabama. The Jaguars are giving up just 376.8 yards per game, which is well more than 100 yards less per contest than the Aggies.
Special Teams: Even. New Mexico State’s Parker Davidson has missed five extra points but is 15-of-19 on field goals. Meanwhile, South Alabama’s Gavin Patterson is perfect on extra points but has missed six field goals.
Coaching: South Alabama. Martin is 10-37 at NMSU, while Jones is 47-41 at USA.
Intangibles: South Alabama. There is no better motivation than playing for a postseason berth.
Matchup To Watch
Dallas Davis vs. NMSU pass defense
The South Alabama quarterback played very well against Mississippi State, but he has had a bit of an uneven year. Protecting the football is critical in this must-win game, and connecting on a couple of big plays through the air against a shaky secondary will give this offense confidence and possibly get NMSU to start thinking “Here we go again.”
Spread: South Alabama -12
South Alabama vs. New Mexico State Prediction
It won’t often be a pretty game, but the Jaguars will notch a close win and become eligible for the postseason. The Aggies will struggle through the air, while USA will get just enough offense behind the arm of Davis.
South Alabama vs. New Mexico State Final Score Prediction: South Alabama 28, New Mexico State 17