10 Reasons Why BYU Beats UNM:
1) Sanders & Friends: No, this isn't the latest NBC sitcom. This is the dominant offensive line in the Mountain West Conference. These guys have put the hurt on everyone they have played in the last half-dozen games. Nothing better exemplifies the effort these guys are giving than Brian Sanders bowling over an opponent last week and then laying on him for the duration of the play. UNM's defensive line is on the smaller side, averaging just 251 lbs - compared to BYU's offensive line who average 312lbs. The O-Line has been the catalyst for BYU's offensive surge and there is no reason to think that the O-Line won't dominate the line of scrimmage again on Saturday.
2) Saying Goodbye: This is the final home game for several BYU players - noteably: Shaun Nua, John Denny, Brady Poppinga, Aaron Francisco, John Burbidge Micha Alba, Matt Payne, Scott Young, Jason Kukahiko, Rod Wilkerson, and Hanale Vincent. Many of these guys are team leaders who no doubt will do everything possible to walk off the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the last time winners.
3) UNM can run, but their QB can't hide: UNM is averaging just 115 yards per game passing, and their QB, Kole McKamey, has a pass efficiency rating of just 96.4, 2nd lowest in the conference. Expect BYU to load up the line of scrimmage to stop DonTrell Moore and pressure McKamey. It seems unlikely that the UNM passing game can beat BYU.
4) 300 ypg passing & 200 ypg running: When you compare BYU and UNM you see similarly good defenses and two big offensive lines that drive strong running games. The big difference is that BYU can both pass and run offensively, UNM can't. I think UNM's defense is good, but will be on their heels because of BYU's offensive balance.
5) Special Teams: The Lobo's will try to offset their offensive limitations by making some big plays on special teams. I've been impressed with BYU's special teams play all year, especially Matt Payne. I just don't see any weakness for UNM to exploit - and in fact Payne has better field goal range and is a better punter than the UNM equivalents.
6) On an island with Watkins and Collie: Rocky Long, the UNM coach, has said he's not going to alter his defense for Watkins and Collie - which means that the UNM corners will spend a lot of time one-on-one with the BYU WRs. UNM does have two good CBs, especially Gabriel Fullbright, but I think it is a tall task to ask anyone to cover Watkins alone all game. Eventually, there will be mistakes made and "Beck to Watkins" will make them pay.
7) Who's your Daddy, v2: Like SDSU, UNM is a team that BYU just knows how to beat. In the last 21 games between these two teams, BYU has won 19 times and just lost twice! In the last 15 games in Provo, BYU is 14 and 1. There is a lot of Karma there that UNM has to overcome.
8) Can they score enough? UNM's offense averages just 19 points per game. In fact, in their 5 conference games, they have reached the "red zone" just 10 times. As Coach Long said earlier this week, UNM will need to score more than 20 points to beat BYU. I just don't think they can do it.
9) Strength vs Strength: The most interesting "battle" this week should be the Lobo offensive line versus the BYU defensive line. Both units will have some victories, no doubt. But, UNM hasn't faced as good or deep of a defensive line as what BYU will bring to LES on Saturday. In the end though, Nua, Brown, Denney & Associates will get the upper hand and turn out the lights on the Lobo's.
10) Coach C.: Both teams are playing with confidence, but BYU has dominated the last two games. I like where Coach Crowton has gotten this team - they seem to respond to him - and him to them. Coach C. knows what is at stake in these last two games, and he'll have his team and staff at their best for UNM.
... and 5 reasons why they may not:
1) Turnovers: UNM is #1 in the conference in turnover margin (+11). Their game plan will be to use their defense to keep the game close and "expect" BYU to eventually give up interceptions and turnovers. If BYU gives the ball up more than once or twice - they'll lose.
2) Looking forward to Utah: It seems that most BYU fans are assuming a "W" this week against UNM and are focusing their attention on the Utah game next week. If the football team makes the same assumption, they are in for a shock. UNM will be focused solely on BYU and will be ready to play. BYU needs to come with the same intensity.
3) DonTrell Moore: UNM has a big offensive line and a good running back in DonTrell Moore. UNM will want to control the line of scrimmage and time of possession with their running game, thereby shortening the game and limiting their exposure to Brown, Beck, Watkins and Collie.
4) Bye week: UNM is coming off a bye week, so they will be rested, both emotionally and physically.
5) Big plays: UNM has some good athletic talent on both sides of the ball and will take advantage of a single mistake and turn it into points. BYU has had some problems giving up big plays this season. BYU has got to make UNM earn their all points.
Knute's Prediction: DonTrell Moore will get his yards, but UNM will continue to have problems scoring. BYU's offense will start slowly, but will eventually wear down the smaller Lobos. BYU simply has too many weapons, and UNM is too limited, offensively. BYU wins 31-17.