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Saturday, November 24, 2012

BYU vs. New Mexico State: 5 Things to Watch for

In the regular season finale for the Brigham Young Cougars, fans of the team can look for many things besides a win for the Cougars. Here are five.

1. Lark's first career start.

Redshirt senior quarterback James Lark is expected to get his first career start. BYU should be able to send out the mascot Cosmo at quarterback and still win this game. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what Lark can bring. Since 2006, four of five BYU quarterbacks have won their first start. Jason Beck (2006), Max Hall (2007), Riley Nelson (2010), and Taysom Hill (2012) have all won. Jake Heaps (2010) is the only BYU quarterback during this time to lose his first career start. Beck is the only one of this group who make his first start as a senior.

2. 200 yard rusher.

Expect BYU to lean heavily on freshman running back Jamaal Williams, no matter who starts at quarterback. the New Mexico State defense is horrible at run defense (207 yards per game). If Riley Nelson does start, BYU will want to protect him by giving the ball to Williams as much as possible. BYU has not had a 200 yard rusher since Curtis Brown. With 25-30 carries against an outmanned New Mexico State squad, Williams could end this drought.

3. Worse than Idaho.

New Mexico State lost to Idaho this season. Two weeks ago, BYU crushed Idaho 52-13, after jumping out to a 42-7 lead with 6:59 to play in the first half. BYU also had 537 yards of total offense (285 pass, 252 rush). The Cougar defense gave up just 273 yards, including 61 rushing. How will BYU's stats against New Mexico State compare with those from the Idaho game?

4. Bouncing back.

BYU has lost games in pairs this season. When BYU lost to Utah, the Cougars lost the next game to Boise State. After losing to Oregon State, BYU lost the next week to Notre Dame. BYU is coming off a loss last week to San Jose State. Will the trend of back-to-back losses continue?

5. Bronco Mendenhall in New Mexico.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall came to BYU from New Mexico in 2003. Since his arrival, BYU is undefeated in games played in the state of New Mexico. BYU is 4-0 versus the University of New Mexico (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009) and 1-0 in neutral games (New Mexico Bowl, 2010).

While at New Mexico (1998-2002), Mendenhall and the Lobos faced New Mexico State every season. In five games, New Mexico State held a 3-2 advantage.

Can Mendenhall even his record against New Mexico State, and stay undefeated in games played in New Mexico?

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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