The University of New Mexico football team will host the one-loss Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday evening at Dreamstyle Stadium.
The Lobos (3-3, 1-1 Mountain West) are coming off a loss to CSU last weekend, in which they lost on a field goal as time expired.
It was a heartbreaker for the Lobos, as they had an 18-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. But the Rams’ two-minute offense prevailed, and they got into field goal range, which set up the game-winning field goal.
Sitting at 5-1 and atop the conference, the Bulldogs have defeated all five of its opponents by two touchdowns or more, and their lone loss came on the road at Minnesota in their second game of the season.
FSU’s biggest win came against UCLA and new head coach Chip Kelly.
The Bulldogs’ most recent victory game was against Wyoming last Saturday. They won 27-3.
In conference play, the Bulldogs have held Mountain West teams to just three points. Their two conference matchups this season have come against Nevada and Wyoming, both of which they held to just three points.
UNM head coach Bob Davie understands the challenges his offense will face in a Bulldogs’ defense that has held opponents to just 13.5 points per game overall.
“The defense, as it should statistically, generates so much attention because, I mean, they’ve given up three points and three points in the last two weeks,” Davie said.
On average, the UNM offense has been putting up 38.17 points per game.
Sheriron Jones, who is still at the helm of the Lobo offense and looks to be the starter the remainder of the season barring any injury, averages 159.7 yards through the air, per game.
Jones has 12 passing touchdowns and six interceptions.
Tyrone Owens leads the UNM backfield with 424 rushing yards and six touchdowns so far this season.
But Davie believes that FSU’s hot start is due to a combination of a well-balanced scheme on both sides of the ball. That’s something that’s expected from a “tradition rich program” as Davie puts it.
For the Lobos to have a chance, Jones will have to be near-perfect in form as he was against UNLV in Las Vegas two Saturdays ago.
That means no turnovers, a well-balanced run and pass attacking and trying to commit the least amount of penalties as possible.
Davie said that, on offense, FSU has the ability to adjust its schematics on offense to cater to what best fits its needs.
The Lobos’ defense has given up on average 31 points per game.
FSU’s QB, Marcus McMaryion, has thrown for 1,578 yards and 11 touchdowns on 130 completions so far this season. He also has seven rushing touchdowns.
“They’re a very well-coached team,” Davie said. “You gotta put the credit where the credit lies.”
Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. at Dreamstyle Stadium. The game will be aired on ESPNU.
Matthew Narvaiz is a sports beat reporter and senior writer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football, but also contributes content for other sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.