IT's NMSU Game Picks

IT's Bill Frisbie, Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and the reasoning behind those picks, in Sunday's game between Texas and NMSU.

IT Picks:

Frisbie -- Time again for the fearless pre-game predictions. Okay, I’ll go out on a limb. Texas will win. There. I said it.

New Mexico State is a solid Sun Belt team but, obviously, not in the same stratosphere as Texas. They travel to Austin for the money, and for the money and, well, for the money. Plus it’s a taste of big time college football for the Aggies. In exchange for the pounding, NMSU gets a rare television appearance (Fox Sports Net) plus the adrenaline-rush of playing in front of as nearly many people on Sunday as they did all last year.

The only suspense revolves around when the nation’s best backup QB (Vince Young) gets in the game, whether SE Roy Williams blocks a punt, and whether the defense can pitch a shutout (as it did three times last year).

I am a perpetual optimist, but these home openers are rarely as fun as we anticipate. The offense is never as crisp as we expect, and even a four-TD win will feel less than satisfying. Recall last year’s less than scintillating win over North Texas, as head coach Mack Brown did earlier this week.

"We jumped out over North Texas, 27-0, and then didn’t move the ball in the second half at all," Brown said. "I don’t know why, other than that they whipped us."

So, how far do we press this analogy between the Mean Green and the Sand Aggies?

"Those two teams (North Texas, New Mexico State) played for their conference championship," Brown added. "North Texas was better than we anticipated them to be, so you really don’t know this time of year."

This we do know: Roy will not face a single DB Sunday who has started a college game. Not one. Even if Texas tries to force the run (as I expect them to), Williams could still have 100 yards on a couple of hitch passes by halftime.

Still, it’s finally football season and there’s nothing like a home opener. The main thing in this one is to get some meaningful snaps for the backups and to keep every one injury-free.

Texas beat NMSU 41-7 in 1996 and by the same score in 2001. Sounds about right to me. Texas 41, New Mexico State 7.

Pearle -- You’re always tempted to believe that it would be impossible for Texas to lose a game like this to a team from a weak conference, from a state whose population of 1.8 million is about a third that of the DFW metroplex, but then you see Northern Illinois shock 14th-ranked Maryland and you realize that crazy stuff can and does happen. New Mexico State is confident bordering on cocky coming off a winning season in 2002, and they believe they can move the football on Texas. Maybe they will, a little, as they throw the two-headed quarterback hydra at the UT D, but the Horns will be the ones making the scoreboard ring like the loose slots at Bally’s. Expect no upset Sunday night. Chance Mock will find some real-game rhythm with his receiving corps, the O-line will gain confidence clearing the lanes for Cedric Benson and Co., and the Texas defense will bring a brand of size and speed against the Ag option that ultimately renders it impotent. Labor Day will come a day early for NMSU as they labor to keep this one close. Post-game finds the Aggies limping back to Las Cruces on the short end of a drubbing. Texas 38, New Mexico State 7.

Ross -- Back in the '01 season opener vs. New Mexico State, Longhorn true freshmen Cedric Benson and Derrick Johnson -- now junior starters and award candidates -- announced their presence to Orangebloods while redshirt freshman Chance Mock held a clipboard on the sideline. Benson turned in a dazzling debut, sharing the team lead in rushing, while Johnson flew around the field for six tackles, including a TFL. This opener should finally provide a similar coming out party for Mock. In terms of actual game snaps, Mock is little more than a true freshman, but his three-plus years on the Forty Acres has him prepared to match the debuts of his now junior classmates. But what you see Sunday night from the Texas offense will definitely be the early stages of a work in progress. Between Mock's inexperience in game situations and the revamped offensive line, there are going to be a lot of rough edges. Texas, though, will move the ball and put it in the end zone. Probably not consistently, but well overall. The defense, while experienced, athletic and talented, will face just the type of offense that can give it some trouble. The NMSU QBs are good runners, adequate passers, and experienced at leading the Aggie offense. Think Nebraska in Lincoln last year, when Jammal Lord ripped off run after run to total 234 yards while passing for another 98, including a 60-yard TD toss. OK, NMSU is not Nebraska, even last year's 7-7 variety. And the Aggie QBs will not total 234 yards against the Horns. That figure should be closer to NMSU's total offensive production. But the Ags are capable of at least a couple of strong offensive series, so they will move the ball and put it in the end zone. But unlike the Horns, they'll do it just once in what will be but a tune-up for UT's first real test in two weeks vs. Arkansas. Texas 49, New Mexico State 13.

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