Utah State (3-5) vs New Mexico (2-6)
Kickoff: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT
Venue: Maverik Stadium (25,100 capacity)
TV: CBS Sports
Livestream: CBS Sports Network Live
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM
Series: Utah State and New Mexico will meet for the 29th time. The Aggies hold a 15-13 advantage in the series, including a 8-4 record at home. USU has won each of the last five games played and eight of the last 11 overall.
Weather: Temperatures in the high 30s with rain expected (80% or more) and 13 mph winds out of the south.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 3-5 overall and coming off a bye week, following a disappointing loss to rival Wyoming. USU is in a battle for bowl eligibility, needing three more wins with four games remaining this season. The Aggies now have a 18% chance of becoming bowl eligible, per ESPN.
For New Mexico: The Lobos are 2-6 on the season and 0-4 in Mountain West play following a 41-9 loss at home loss to Fresno State two weekends ago. New Mexico is staring at its seventh consecutive losing season.
What to watch for
Almost everything comes down to who is playing quarterback for Utah State.
After Cooper Legas took over for the injured Logan Bonner, the Aggies were a completely different team, losing a competitive game against BYU before notching wins over Air Force and Colorado State.
Without Legas against Wyoming, Utah State struggled to consistently move the ball on offense, with true freshman Bishop Davenport starting his first collegiate game.
Legas makes the Aggies’ offense dangerous — he is expected back after missing nearly two games with a concussion — which will be needed against New Mexico.
The Lobos’ calling card is defense, thanks to defensive coordinator Rocky Long.
New Mexico has a top 4 total defense in the Mountain West Conference, while having the worst total offense in the league.
The Lobos are especially effective against the run, allowing 135.88 rushing yards per game, behind only Boise State, San Jose State and Air Force.
Offensively, New Mexico has struggled mightily and rates among the worst teams in the conference in scoring offense, total touchdowns scored and total offensive yards.
Utah State’s defense, meanwhile has steadily improved as the season has progressed, through the Lobos triple-option attack could prove a challenge.
Cooper Legas, QB, Utah State: The Aggies have been a completely different team this season when Legas has been the quarterback. Without him, Utah State is 1-4 this season, with losses to Alabama, Weber State, UNLV and Wyoming.
With him, the Aggies are 2-1, with wins over Air Force and Colorado State, plus a competitive loss at BYU.
Legas’ stats don’t exactly jump off the page — he’s thrown for 528 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions, while rushing for 175 yards and two touchdowns — but the Aggies have been demonstrably better on offense when he has been at quarterback.
“This is a big game. This is a must win for us. It is the next step to get closer to bowl eligibility, close to a winning season so I think our kids have taken a great approach. ... We’ve got a tough challenge with Rocky (Long) and Danny’s (Gonzalez) defense coming in. And triple option. Some challenges we are going to have to face this week.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
“Coach Anderson has done a great job there, obviously. In year one they won a conference championship. They’ve had some ups and downs this year, result-wise, but they are a very competitive football team. ... We are going in with the plan that they are going to be healthy. We are planning on them being at full speed. ” — New Mexico coach Danny Gonzalez
Utah State travels to Hawaii to take on the Warriors in a late kickoff (Saturday, Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. MST). New Mexico travels to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force in a Mountain Division contest.
Utah State schedule
Aug. 27 — Utah State 31, UConn 20
Sept. 3 — No. 1 Alabama 55, Utah State 0
Sept. 10 — Weber State 35, Utah State 7
Sept. 17 — BYE
Sept. 24 — UNLV 34, Utah State 24
Sept. 29 — No. 16 BYU 38, Utah State 26
Oct. 8 — Utah State 34, Air Force 27
Oct. 15 — Utah State 17, Colorado State 13
Oct. 22 — Wyoming 28, Utah State 14
Oct. 29 — BYE
Nov. 5 — Utah State vs. New Mexico
Nov. 12 — Utah State at Hawaii
Nov. 19 — Utah State vs. San José State
Nov. 25 — Utah State at Boise State
All times MT.