BAYLOR vs NEW MEXICO

The Bears meet the Loboes tonight at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Last year in Waco, the Bears won in overtime, 16-13. There are some similarities between the two in that although having played one more game than the Bears, New Mexico opened on the road against an East Coast team while the Bears opened on the road against a West Coast team. Each team met a Division 1-AA school for their second contest. Now the two face each other with New Mexico looking for some revenge.

The Lobo's biggest threats appear to come from the offensive side of the ball, since the defense has had its problems, even with what has to be considered the weakest team on their schedule so far, Division 1-AA Weber State. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of Baylor, we'll just take a look at New Mexico's first three games and see what unfolds.

The biggest threat from New Mexico would appear to come from their QB Casey Kelly and their top RB Quincy Wright. In their first game against North Carolina State, Kelly completed 20 of 36 passes, a respectable 55.55% of his passes, for 168 yards. However, he only had 1 for a touchdown and 2 interceptions. Meanwhile, Wright, in his lowest performance so far this season, had 67 yards rushing on 12 carries, still a respectable 5.58 yards per rush average, and one touchdown. Wright also had 4 receptions for 40 yards. However, and again this points more to the defense than a lack of offense, the Wolfpack outgained the Lobos 416-239, with a very lopsided 253-72 advantage in the first half, building a 21-0 halftime lead. A big part of the Wolfpack's success had to be in third down conversions where they were 10 of 13. NC State won the game 34-14.

The second game was a New Mexico home-opening victory, 38-24 victory over, what the official site refers to as a Pesky Weber State Wildcat football team. Wright turned in the best performance ever by a Lobo RB, getting 265 yards on 27 carries, a whopping 9.8 yards per carry. The 5-10, 185 pound running back, who ran a 4.36 forty in the spring, broke a previous game-high record of 236 yards. Meanwhile, with the running game working, QB Casey Kelly only threw the ball 16 times, completing 12 for only 93 yards and no touchdowns. Again, however, the defense was suspect, as Weber State outgained the Lobos, 407-349 yards. This was mainly due to Weber State's commanding lead in number of offensive plays, 87-50, and their QB Tate Bennett, who was 33 of 52 for 345 yards. Also, keep in mind that the main reason Wright had so many yards was because he was in the game the entire time, mainly due to the New Mexico's defense not being able to contain Weber State's offense.

There was also one particular play that, in itself, could have been the 14-point difference in the game. With less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, Weber State had driven down to the New Mexico 17-yard line. QB Tate Bennett, on second down, attempted a pass, but it was knocked into the air and caught by Tate. Tate was then stripped of the ball, by NT Hebrews Josue, who carried the wayward pigskin 41 yards towards the goal. As he was being tackled, Josue lateralled to LB Billy Strother who sprinted the remaining 42 yards for the score, putting the Lobos up, 23-10. After the ensuing kickoff, Weber State stalled and punted, whereby Dwight Counter returned the punt 63 yards for another score to increase the Lobo's lead to 30-10. However, the "Pesky Wildcats" would fight back even then, to lose by only 14, 38-24.

Against Air Force, again it was Quincy Wright who was the main weapon, gaining 145 yards on 25 carries, or 5.8 yards per carry. His longest run was 39 yards. Meanwhile, Air Force's Leotis Palmer had 129 yards, but only on 15 carries, a whopping 8.6 per rush. His longest gain was a 54-yard touchdown run. Overall, Air Force led in first downs 22-17, yards rushing 261-149, and total offensive plays 72-71. New Mexico had the upper hand in total passing yards 213-99 and total yards 362-360. The cadets won in overtime 38-31 when, after Air Force scored on the opening possession, three straight incomplete passes by Lobo quarterback Casey Kelly ended the Lobos' scoring chances.

Again, it appears that New Mexico's best weapon is Quincy Wright and the rushing game, but the Bears are only giving up 2.4 yards per rush this season, so it looks like strength against strength.


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