Let’s get that out of the way early: Any team can beat this Missouri team. You know this. I know this. Missouri plays so slowly and conservatively that mistakes are amplified and even the dregs of FBS and mid-FCS teams can hang around uncomfortably long.
So, no, don’t book New Mexico State as a 100% guaranteed win. It should be! But this Mizzou force doesn’t lock out teams. So let’s call it a 93% guaranteed win.
Here is the preview I wrote in June. The Last Chance U-style JUCO acquisition project has mostly gone well as the Aggies are on a three-game winning streak. HERE COME THE RESERVATIONS:
- The wins come over the teams placed 128th, 131st and 124th (in the FCS!) in SP+.
- They scored 21 and 23 against 87th best defense and 120th best defense, respectively.
- They allowed 9 points for 131st best offense and 13 points for 130th best offense.
- Due to a combo of scheduling an extra bye week for playing in Hawaii as well as a canceled game against San Jose State being rescheduled for December 10, NMSU had two weeks to prepare for all three of their most recent wins.
Let’s look at the matchups for the penultimate home game of the 2022 season.
When Missouri has the ball
Outside of former Michigan blue-chip transfer Andre Seldon, NMSU’s defense is a collection of overlooked, little school contenders who usually meet a JUCO before ending up in Las Cruces. This is the better unit Mizzou will face on Saturday… and we all know how this offense stacks up against a decent defense. Here are the keys to getting through a decent test of the Aggies.
Grind and crush
Missouri’s offense was able to put up a steady day against Tennessee’s pass defense but could only move the ball on the ground when Brady Cook ran for his life. The opposite is true here: New Mexico state’s pass defense ranks 16th (!!!!) in the country and does not give up plays big or small through the air. However, they stink on fast defense, ranking 94th against the run, 109th in filling runs at the scrimmage line, and 59th in explosive plays allowed on the ground. That should be music to Eli Drinkwitz’s ears. Missouri should shoot for a 45% success rate on site.
Keep up with the chains
Countless Missouri drives got stuck once they hit 3rd place. They currently rank 86th in 3rd down success rate thanks to the 83rd-best average 3rd down distance in the country (currently averaging 3rd-7.6). The goal should be for the offense to have at least a 41% overall success rate to avoid dangerous 3rd down scenarios.
Shut down your dang drives
The New Mexico state defense is 120th in points per scoring opportunity allowed. Please, Missouri, show us you can finish with touchdowns and put that thing down early. 6 scoring chances with at least 4.2 points per chance.
BONUS: Watch out for this guy
This is #80. His name is Trevor Brohard and he
brothers so hard is the starting middle linebacker. He could also be Bryan Cranston in a wig. Regardless, he’s really good, but yeah, this is mostly for you to look at the lovely curls of a guy with the last name Brohard.
When the state of New Mexico has the ball
In case you’re curious, yes, former Missouri Tigers Dominic Gicinto is still on the team. Unfortunately, he was only on the field five games and had three goals with two catches for 16 yards. Maybe If they played him more, this offensive wouldn’t be ranked 129th in all FBS right now, huh?
Limit the explosive plays
You’ve all seen what happens when an offense that can often rip off big plays scores against a Missouri defense that allows big plays. Here’s a smaller version of the same problem: NMSU isn’t doing well, but when they move the ball, it’s through explosive play on the floor. That needs to be minimized or eliminated, ideally with fewer than 5 explosive plays allowed at the end of the day.
NMSU is suffering with one of the worst revenue luck in all of college football, currently at -2.5 points per game with a -6 revenue margin. Mizzou should take advantage of this and quit at least +2 sales margin.
There are very few comfortable wins this year, but it would be in everyone’s interest if this were one of them. Get up at four points (lol) and put the backups in for the second half. Easy!