It’s been duly difficult seasons for BYU and New Mexico State. It’s not the way either school envisioned their respective seasons. For New Mexico State, coming off a 4-win season and a ton of talent returning, losing 9 straight games has gotten their school president to resign. That’s in addition to not having a conference to call home anymore and putting Head Coach Dewayne Walker on the hot seat. Things have particularly looked worse in the last 4 games, losing by a combined 158-35, and coach Walker citing that some of his players have quit on the team. Having a second bye week of the season coming before the BYU game gives the Aggies time to refocus mentally, prepare for the Cougars, and look for some positives going in to next season. Any amount of extra preparation will be key in trying to improve their defense, ranking 108th in total defense.
For BYU, more questions surround the team off the field than on it. Yet, Coach Bronco Mendenhall must get his team through this game and the impending bowl game before off the field questions can be answered. Most importantly for their contest versus NMSU is the status of Riley Nelson and Cody Hoffman. Nelson and Hoffman were limited in practice this week while nursing injuries suffered during the loss to San Jose State. With the porousness of NMSU’s defense, BYU could probably win without playing their starters on offense or defense. So the question is how much will we see Nelson, Hoffman, and the other starters?
From what we know, James Lark will get the start and Hoffman will start for the backup QB. Expect BYU’s offense to show up for the senior, perpetual backup, QB. Lark may need a couple series to get full game speed underneath, but I expect him to play well in his only start in a BYU jersey.
Although I certainly feel BYU will win the matchup, if the cougars falter early, are caught sleeping defensively, or make mental errors, it’s only going to add fuel to a very small fire the aggies have lit. The cougars do not want to get involved in a game that keeps NMSU in it much longer than they should. The cougars will be sluggish today; it’s hard for the players to believe this is what they desired out of their season. They may even fall behind early. But they won’t go out with another loss. Plus, the offense will want to help Lark get a win for him; it will give them a reason to be on the field.
BYU- 58 NMSU- 17