Woohoo, it’s annual cupcake week, though it did come a week early for Alabama this season. Instead of this game being the warm-up before the Iron Bowl, the Arkansas matchup got sandwiched in between somehow.
In any case, the New Mexico State Aggies come to town boasting a 1-8 record as one of the worst teams in FBS football. The Aggies have bounced around between the Big West, WAC, and Sunbelt conferences over the years before becoming an independent in 2018. They’ve not won more than 3 games in a season ever since. According to DraftKings sportsbook, Alabama is favored by a whopping 51.5 points as of this writing.
They’ve pretty much primarily scheduled with teams from the Mountain West, though, before ending the season with back-to-back SEC matchups against Alabama and Kentucky and finishing with fellow independent, Massachusetts.
Thus far, their only win has come against an FCS squad in South Carolina State.
Offensively, the Aggies are averaging 23 points per game, good for 102nd in the nation.
QB Jonah Johnson had an awful season opener game against UTEP, but has since averaged 310 yards per game and has thrown 8 touchdowns to 7 picks. The Aggies run a wide-spread offense focused on short passes outside and the occasional rushing play to keep defenses honest.
Senior receiver Jared Wyatt has been the main recipient of their passing volume, with 41 catches for 480 yards and a couple of touchdowns. At 6’2” 203, the bigger receiver has sure hands and is generally excellent at getting a few yards after the catch each time. Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda is the big play threat for the Aggies, averaging 15.1 yards per catch on 30 catches with 4 touchdowns.
In the rushing game, QB Jonah Johnson is a huge threat with his 235-pound frame and surprising speed. When Johnson isn’t keeping the ball, the speedy Juwuan Price (a third year freshman!) is averaging 5.1 yards on his 91 carries and has 6 touchdowns. Price has some juice in his step, and is likely the most dangerous weapon on the Aggie offense.
Defensively, things are even less exciting. They’re giving up 38 points per game, which is 126th (out of 130) in the country. While there hasn’t been much they’ve done particularly well, linebacker Chris Ojoh was an FCS All-American for Eastern Washington before transferring this year to play for the Aggies in a higher division of football. In his short time with New Mexico State, Ojoh has 5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss while also being 3rd on the team in total tackles with 49. He’s forced a couple of fumbles to really cement his highly disruptive season.
The other unique player to watch on their defense is senior free safety Caleb Mills. Mills is a former wide receiver with a massive 6’5” 215 pound frame. He leads the team in tackles and has an interception and 3 passes defended from deep centerfield.
In the end, though, don’t expect either unit to give Alabama many issues this week. I won’t embarrass myself and try to talk about any specific matchups... This is just two schools at totally different levels of football that, honestly, shouldn’t be playing.
Here’s to hoping for a game where the Aggies get a chance to see a big-game atmosphere, Alabama gets a chance to let some new players see the field in front of fans, and everyone gets out without injury.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.