We predict the New Mexico State vs. Sacramento State season-opening football game. Kick off is set for tonight, 6 p.m., at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
I really believe this is a hard game to get a grip on because both teams are relative mysteries. We’ve been over it before — Sac State has a new offensive coordinator, and new offensive backfield (starting quarterback, running back). They finished last year with a 4-7 record, yet upset PAC-12 program Oregon State on the road.
As for the Aggies, I believe their defense will be improved with a new coordinator in David Elson. I think the front-seven can be a team strength, while they’re breaking in a new starting secondary. Offensively also sees a new coordinator Jerry McManus, while the team lost some playmakers from a season ago — wide receiver Taveon Rogers, running back Kenny Turner and quarterback Matt Christian. The team also replaces the entire right side of its offensive line in 2012.
What do I want to see? For starters, I want to see the defense step up and I do expect a good performance on that side of the ball tonight. I will look hard at the secondary — four new starters back there, on a unit that’s been a strength during the four-year tenure of head coach DeWayne Walker. How do they cover the deep ball, and how do they tackle? Again, I think the defense can hold their own against the Hornets this evening.
Offensively, I want to see consistency. Somewhere between 350 and 400 total yards would mark an efficient performance for Week 1 of the season. My eyes will be on the offensive line. Can they block in a down-hill rushing attack — NMSU has said they want to emphasize that more in 2012 — and protect quarterback Andrew Manley. And, of course, I want to see how Manley performs coming off a torn ACL injury suffered early last season. How does he move flushed out of the pocket, and react after taking a hit? I would like to see him play well in this one.
As for the team, a solid performance will be optimal. Do they have to dominate? It depends on your definition of the word, and, again, it’s tough because Sacramento State is somewhat of an unknown quantity. But I think a solid win would do the trick. I do think think they’ll win. Their largest margin of victory during the Walker era is 14 points, coming last year against New Mexico. NMSU surpasses that margin tonight.
My prediction: New Mexico State 28, Sacramento State 10
In case you missed it
Some stories and commentary previewing tonight’s game:
Aggie junior college transfers that look to make an impact: click here
Commentary on the 2012 season FINALLY being here: click here
Aggie video interviews leading up to Week 1: click here
On the blog, my keys to tonight's contest: click here
The rundown for tonight’s contest
Who: Sacramento State at New Mexico State
What: College football season opener, Week 1
Where: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces
When: Tonight, 6 p.m.
Radio: KGRT-FM 104 Vista-FM 98.7 (Spanish)
TV: The game will be televised on AggieVision (tape delayed in Las Cruces). Internet viewers can watch the game on ESPN3
Weather: Partly cloudy, 76 degrees. Outside chance of thunderstorms