We got a tease of college football action on Saturday with four games. None of the Power-5 conferences were in the mix, though, so it didn’t feel like the opening week of college football. It was more like Week 0.5. At least we had actual football games to bet on that count. New Mexico State will play their second game of the year Thursday night. They didn’t get any favors from the schedule makers who give them a short turnaround. It also doesn’t help that they played a physical Wyoming defense in their first game as well.
Wyoming has one of the most underrated defenses in college football. That was the case last year too, but it was often overshadowed by Josh Allen. Now that Allen is in the NFL, I think some talented prospects on the Wyoming defense will get more of the attention. They did not let up against New Mexico State. The battle in the trenches was a lopsided affair, with the New Mexico State offensive line getting pushed around like a high school unit from the 1st quarter to the 4th.
The offense line is going to have to be better, much better. They are not going to get much better results against Minnesota on the road if they play like that. That does for the defensive line as well. They got worn down and the Wyoming running game was getting chunk yardage late in the contest. That was with three freshmen along Wyoming’s offensive line. Some of them had never played in a college football game before and they were handling the New Mexico State defensive line. However, this goes back to the defense being on the field all game long.
The Gophers need to see a jump forward under second-year head coach, P.J. Fleck. Fleck came to Minnesota after a several career in the MAC at Western Michigan. While it’s still difficult to judge a guy based on his second-year at a program, the Gophers hope to at least get to 7 wins in 2018 and go bowling. They fought hard in 2017 and came close to upsetting Michigan, but it wasn’t good enough for a bowl at 5-7. Minnesota will get their season started Thursday night on their campus. New Mexico State will seek a better effort after taking a 29-7 loss to Wyoming last week. Get our free New Mexico State vs. Minnesota pick and the rest of our writeup below.
New Mexico State Aggies vs. Minnesota Gophers Betting Odds:
New Mexico State +21(-105)
vs. Minnesota -21(-115)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
New Mexico State vs. Minnesota Pick:
The New Mexico State offense didn’t get going until it was garbage time. First-year quarterback, Matt Romero, was benched in the 3rd quarter to try and get something going. But, if you were watching the game, you would have seen that it wasn’t his fault. No receivers were getting open and the offensive line wasn’t holding up. His backup, Nick Jeanty, threw 2 or 3 passes that should have resulted in interceptions.
Romero was put back in and he finished the game with a touchdown completion to Drew Dan. Dan is the only receiver to go over 50 yards receiving. The loss of wide receiver Jaleel Scott to the NFL looks to hurt their offensive significantly. No Scott or Tyler Rogers at quarterback is going to be a tough adjusting period for this offense. Jason Huntley led the team in rushing with just 22 yards on 9 attempts. The Aggies ended the game in the hole with negative yardage rushing the ball.
A weakness that opponents in the Big Ten will be able to exploit this season is the Minnesota defensive line. They had a slew of talent move on, notably Steven Richardson who was a force along the line for the Gophers. However, what does New Mexico State have to take advantage of this hole on Minnesota? Sure, the big boys in the Big Ten should do it, but I wouldn’t expect much from a New Mexico State team that looked clueless less than a week ago. Their offensive line must be feeling beat up after dealing with Wyoming last week. I don’t know how not after playing that defensive unit.
True freshman Zack Annexstad will get the start at quarterback for Minnesota. He was not expected to win the starting job just a few months ago, but Annexstad has impressed enough to garner the confidence of Fleck. Annexstad will have the talented Tyler Johnson to hurl the ball up to. Johnson caught 35 balls for 677 yards and 7 touchdowns in his sophomore campaign and is expected to be the most productive Minnesota receiver in quite a while in 2018.
Look for senior running back, Rodney Smith, to cut through New Mexico State with ease in this matchup. He has 3,850 all-purpose yards as a Gopher and will add big yardage this season as well. I don’t believe the freshman quarterback will be counted on to do anything too special against the Aggies. Smith likely carries the load. Wyoming ran for 313 yards on New Mexico State last week. I expect Minnesota to pound the rock for sizable yardage, too. I grabbed Minnesota at -18 minutes after New Mexico’s game against Wyoming last Saturday. They should win by more than three touchdowns, so any spread in that range looks good as well.