NMSU gutted out a 34-33 win over UTEP on Saturday night at the Sun Bowl. The defense held late in an exciting contest. I think we all knew that the game would go down to the wire and it didn't disappoint. Lets go over how things played out as well as compare and contrast my pre-game predictions written on my blog post yesterday.
I said that UTEP would win 42-35. I was wrong, as NMSU found a way to hold them under that number. The 34 points scored by the Aggies was just about on the mark.
I had Holbrook completing 35 passes for over 350 yards, three TDs and two picks. He ended 29-of-39, 329 yards and five TDs. He threw two picks and had a backward pass recovered by UTEP, which will be ruled as a fumble. He threw his two picks early and made big tosses when he had to. Good game for Chase. He needed it and he performed when called upon.
I thought Chris Williams would go for over 100 yards and two TDs. I had the running backs having a big evening, with Colston grabbing 80 and a score, Glynn going for 60 and Brandon Perez scoring from short range.
Chris ended up with seven grabs for 119 yards while the RBs didn't do much, although Marquell made a few big plays when he had to. He recorded three grabs for 39 yards to go along with his 21 yards rushing. He will be a contributor throughout the year.
UTEP's star players ended up being a wash, as quarterback Trevor Vittatoe left the game early and running back Terrell Jackson didn't play, as he was hurt as well. Those two leaving changes the entire complexion of the game. Would the Miners win if they both played? Hard to tell. The game would certainly have played out differently though, as UTEP was forced to run the ball throughout with QB James Thomas at the controls. In the end, does it matter? No. Football is a game of injuries and the Aggies have suffered their fair share the last couple of years. A win is a win, and no one on the NMSU sideline will apologize for it.
Keys to the game? Marcus Anderson caught three TDs. Good player! What about NMSU scoring on that 4th-and-21? Big play, the Miner defense should be ashamed of itself for giving that up.
With UTEP driving late, the Aggies forced a fumble and fell on the ball. Huge play, the Miners were in FG range and could have taken the lead right there....Miner kicker Jose Martinez missed a FG on the team's opening drive of the third quarter. He's a good kicker but in a game where every point counts, that's a big miss. Usually the Aggies are the one's missing that field goal and it was nice to be on the other end of it. This team deserves some breaks down the stretch.
With so many Miners banged up, it's hard to gouge the defense's performance. We will say this though, they played well when they had to. One thing the team did was get to the QB. NMSU generated a good deal of sacks and pressure, which caused some problems for UTEP. Derrick Richardson had 21 tackles. That's huge! Derrick has 38 on the year in two games! If he keeps this up, he is going to lead the WAC in that category. I think he likes the new defense, no? Nick Paden added 15. Overall, the D was more active than in the past. We can say that.
I said at the beginning of the year that NMSU would split with their rivals, with the team losing to the Miners and beating the Lobos at home. Now what? Time to get greedy. I really do think NMSU can beat UNM at home. The Aggies had the Lobos on the ropes last year in Albuquerque and lost. UNM will be mad after getting torched by Tulsa on Saturday. It's going to be a hard fought game next weekend at Aggie Memorial. Get your tickets while they're hot.....