NCAA football games are back this weekend, with a light slate that includes the New Mexico State Aggies hosting the UMass Minutemen.
New Mexico State is a 6.5-point favorite (-110) and -250 to win outright, with UMass priced +205. The projected total is 45 (-110). Read on as we break down both sides in our Massachusetts vs New Mexico State preview.
Aggies Finally Turning Corner
After flailing in mediocrity as an independent, the New Mexico State Aggies are transitioning to presumably greener pastures in Conference USA. The Aggies are one of few new members, along with Liberty and FCS contenders Jacksonville State and Sam Houston.
Last season, the Aggies went 7-6 and defeated Bowling Green in the Quick Lane Bowl under new head coach Jerry Kill, their first bowl victory since 2017 and only the fourth in program history. It was a remarkable step given that they’d won just eight games over their previous four years as an independent.
Is there more success in the near future? Kill has certainly pressed all the right buttons since coming aboard, and the move to C-USA should provide more stability for the school’s athletic department as a whole. The Aggies are projected for 5.5 wins, with a lean toward the Over at -160. Plus, the offense returns eight starters, including quarterback Diego Pavia, who threw for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns. That said, plenty of uncertainty remains, particularly on defense.
If the Aggies continue to show improvement on that side of the ball, another bowl may be in their near future. They allowed 23.9 points per game last year, 16.5 fewer than 2021. Keep that in mind when assessing the odds in our Massachusetts vs New Mexico State preview.
Another Long Year in Store for UMass
The UMass Minutemen have been one of the worst teams in the country the last half-decade, with four straight seasons with one win or fewer. UMass’ only win last season, Don Brown’s first as head coach, came against FCS school Stony Brook.
Unfortunately, the Minutemen aren’t expected to be much better in 2023. But, for what it’s worth, they will get a rare showcase opportunity against New Mexico State on national TV. Oddsmakers aren’t expecting much from the Minutemen this year, projecting them for just 2.5 wins, with the Over slanted to -120.
Brown hit the transfer portal in the offseason, bringing in quarterbacks (Georgia Tech) and Carlos Davis (Western Carolina). They’re expected to compete with returning junior Brady Olson, who appeared in nine games last season, completing 77 passes for 791 yards and two scores. The Minutemen ranked 129th out of 131 FBS teams offensively, averaging a woeful 265.8 yards per game.
Still, there’s not much upside here, especially as an independent. UMass has a ways to go before gaining any respectability. It lost 11 games last year by an average of 21.8 points according to NCAA football scores, including three by at least 30 points.
Handicapping the Game
New Mexico State had an upper hand on UMass last October, defeating the Minutemen 23-13 in their first-ever visit to Amherst. While the new season generally comes with newfound optimism, it’s hard to see where the Minutemen have improved. They were one of the worst teams in FBS last season, and barring a surprise, they’ll remain as such this NCAAF season.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re toast. It’s just hard to put much faith in them for the sake of betting purposes. Therefore, expect the odds to comfortably favor the Aggies in this Massachusetts vs New Mexico State preview.
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