New Mexico Lobos vs #14 Arkansas Razorbacks Handicapping Preview
Among the several exciting games coming down the pipes for Week 2, sadly this isn’t one of them. Arkansas is a strong SEC West division program with noble aspirations in 2011, while the Lobos are rather a mess.
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New Mexico Lobos vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock AR
Saturday, Sept. 10, 7:05 pm EST
NCAA Odds from Bookmaker Sportsbook:
Spread: New Mexico +36, Arkansas -36
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New Mexico finished 1-11 in 2010 and is coming off a close loss last week to Colorado State. The Lobos have a couple interesting players – LBs Carmen Messina and Javarie Johnson have talent (Johnson was enrolled at Maryland) – but they are one of the bottom-feeders in the FBS. Lobos head coach Mike Locksley is 2-22 in two years in Albequerque and somewhat surprisingly is back to steer the ship in 2011. To make things worse, DE Donte Savage, one of the better players on the “D”, has been suspended for the year for academics.
The New Mexico secondary has been pretty awful recently, which doesn’t bode well as they travel to Little Rock to face the Razorbacks and their top-ranked passing attack. Gone is the cannon arm and cannon ego of Ryan Mallett and in is Tyler Wilson, who has shown no problems running Arkansas’ lethal aerial show. Wilson went an efficient 18-24 for 260 yards, two TDs and no picks in a 51-7 trouncing of Missouri State last week; backup pivot Brandon Mitchell came in and also put up 104 yards and a score.
The only potential slow-up in the offensive department for Arkansas comes in the form of running back attrition. Starting RB Knile Davis is out for the season with an ankle ailment and key depth guy Broderick Green is also done for the year. This leaves the Hogs with Ronnie Wingo at tailback, who will be spelled by Dennis Johnson. The Razorbacks were lucky that on the depth chart going into the spring, they were quite deep in the backfield. Both Wingo and Johnson are talented players.
The Arkansas defense may not be elite when it comes time to face an Alabama or an LSU, but they should have little problem with New Mexico. Arkansas must watch that it does not get complacent, with the first weeks consisting of Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy. After that, the Hogs get a double-dose of Top 10 teams in Alabama and Texas A&M. Hopefully, the Hogs use these first three contests as tune-up games, and don’t lose their focus.
Locksley’s Lobos lineup is improved from last season, but New Mexico still has miles to climb in order to get out not only of the WAC basement, but to earn any semblance of respect in top-tier college football. There is realistically almost no chance of New Mexico winning this game, so Locksley must have his guys attune to executing well, trying their best and taking plenty of things to build on when they travel to Arkansas and face a really good SEC team.
The easiest way to explain this one? Back-up QB Mitchell might get some more action on Saturday night, as Wilson may well have 200-300 yards passing in the first half in a game that should already be out of reach.
Over is 6-2 in NMEX last 8 road games.
Over is 11-4 in NMEX last 15 games overall.
ARK are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
ARK are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games.
Over is 11-4 in ARK last 15 games in September.
Score Prediction: Arkansas 48, New Mexico 9
Over/Under Prediction: 57.5
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