Wyoming Cowboys (-4) at New Mexico State Aggies - 46.5

Saturday, 8/25 at 10:00 PM EST

Aggie Memorial Stadium — Las Cruces, MN

The nightcap for what I like to call the slate of “appetizer games” brings us a battle of solid defenses with Wyoming making the trip down south for a prime time matchup with the Aggies of New Mexico State.

About Wyoming: The calling card of this Cowboys team will undoubtedly be its defense. Wyoming lead the FBS last season with a +24 turnover differential, and you can expect that to be the same template they try to follow this season. I expect to see then try to establish the running game, as they may struggle to protect Josh Allen’s replacement, who also happens to be a freshman (Tyler Vander Waal) from the strong defensive front of the Aggies. They will also need that to help silence what’s sure to be a highly energetic home crowd with a rare opportunity to have the national spotlight on it. Expect a heavy dose of Nico Evans and a lot of dump downs to tight ends like Austin Fort, as Wyoming prioritizes possession tonight.

About New Mexico State: New Mexico State will also be breaking in a new quarterback, as they look to replace a 4-year starter of their own in Tyler Rogers. The next man up for the Aggies is JUCO transfer Matt Romero, who beat out Nick Jeanty in the preseason. Romero brings an added scrambling ability with his athleticism that pushed him over the top and will provide a challenge for the stout Wyoming defense tonight. You can count on the Aggies taking the opposite approach of Wyoming, in that they want to go fast and they want to sling it around the yard all night. How much success they have will be the key to the game. Can they have enough success (or jump out to an early lead) and force Wyoming out of its measured approach and get them to press? Can/will they establish new starting running back Jason Huntley? If they can, they will be in good shape, as they return nine starters from a defense that finished 2nd in the nation last year with 43 sacks. It is worth noting that the leading returner in sacks (Cedric Wilctos, 8.5 sacks) will not play as he serves the first of a 2-game team issued suspension for academics.

The Difference: Ball control and the Wyoming defense. Can Wyoming keep this as a low-scoring affair, where Nico Evans and the time of possession wear down the Aggie defense and grind out a workmanlike road performance?

The Prediction: I think they can, and I think they will. They’ll control the chains with mild gains on early downs to get into manageable third down situations and will have a couple of time (morale) killing drives early to set the tone. From there, the defense takes over and forces some quick incompletions and forces the NM defense to play more that they would like, especially this early in the season.

Wyoming 24 - New Mexico State 16