Ohio enters as 21-point favorites, and this will be a real uphill battle for the Aggies to win this football game.
A few things are going to have to break NMSU's way here. For starters, the team appears to have an advantage at wide receiver (over Ohio's cornerbacks) and perhaps something can give in this department.
Last week, Ohio played a soft zone defense early on against Penn State, laying their corners 10-yards off the Nittany Lions wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. This allowed Penn State to throw the football underneath. If the Bobcats come out again with such a strategy, this can allow NMSU to dink and dunk their way for short gains, perhaps move the chains a bit, and eat up some clock. As we've stated throughout the week, establishing a running game is a must for the Aggie offense. NMSU would do itself well by winning the time-of-possession battle in this one.
A key to the game is going to be if — or more likely when — Ohio elects to bring the blitz. In their win last week against Penn State, they went to it during the second quarter and into the second half, which seemed to turn the momentum. How the Aggies handle this blitz — and protect quarterback Andrew Manley — will be of critical importance.
Defensively, it will be a huge test for NMSU's entire unit. The front-seven against a solid and experienced offensive line, a dual-threat quarterback in Tyler Tettleton, and a tough runner in Beau Blankenship. And a secondary that had some mistakes last week against Sacramento State, and their ability to rebound against a better opponent in Week 2 of the season. Realistically, controlling Ohio's offense begins with controlling Tettleton. NMSU will have to keep him in the pocket as a passer. Perhaps put a spy on him (which in this case one would figure to be either Donte Savage or Trashaun Nixon). Taking away his ability to run first is a good place to start.
Do I see it being a blowout? Not so much. I do think Ohio can beat NMSU soundly, in this the Bobcats home opener.
My prediction: Ohio 31, NMSU 13
Who: NMSU at Ohio
What: College football game, Week 2
Where: Peden Stadium; Athens, Ohio
When: Tonight, 5 p.m.
Weather: Chance of thunderstorms, high temperature of 71 degrees
Spread: Aggies +21
Radio: KGRT-FM 104; Vista-FM 98.6