These five factors will determine Saturday's game:
1) NMSU Front 7: Hands down the most important factor of tonight’s game will be how the Aggies front seven — defensive line and linebackers — play against a physical Ohio offensive line and running game. It starts at defensive tackle and the NMSU line as a whole — the Aggies need to create some penetration, tie up the Ohio linemen and allow the linebackers freedom to make plays on the ballcarrier.
2) A good start: The Aggies want to play competitive football in 2011 and getting off to a good start in their game against Ohio is important. NMSU has to be the aggressors out of the gate and not fall in an early hole. The faster they do that, the better of they'll be.
3) Matching Ohio's physicality: We can say this much about the Bobcats — they're going to be a physical football team under head coach Frank Solich. It starts on offense, where Ohio will look to run the football behind its skilled line. The Aggies will need to match that physicality and do some of the pushing if they expect to defeat the Bobcats.
4) The young quarterbacks: Sophomore quarterbacks will take center stage in tonight's game, when NMSU's Andrew Manley squares off against Ohio's Tyler Tettleton. The Bobcats offense could look slightly different this year — Tettleton is more your classic drop-back passer, meaning the run-option could be less utilized by the team in 2011. As for Manley, his potential is undeniable — a big player with a strong arm. If he plays at a high level on a consistent basis, the Aggie offense should be the best its been during the three-year DeWayne Walker era.
5) 21: This is the magic number for the Aggie defense. Hold Ohio to 21 points, and NMSU has enough offensive firepower — particularly against a questionable Ohio defense — to come out on top. But keeping the Bobcats to such a threshold won't be easy — Ohio has plenty of offensive weapons as well, and it's not as if the Aggie defense doesn't have holes of its own.