The New Mexico State Aggies travel to Pullman in Week 1 to battle the Washington State Cougars. Kickoff is set for 10:00 PM EST on Saturday, August 31 at Martin Stadium and the game will be televised on the PAC 12 Network.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, New Mexico opened as a massive 34-point road underdog earlier this week. That number has come down a little bit since then, as the Aggies are currently listed at +32.5. The total for the game is sitting at 64.5 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Washington State vs New Mexico State
New Mexico State is coming off a brutal season, as their 3-9 finish gave them the dubious distinction of having the worst overall record of the six independent programs playing in the FBS. However, the offense managed to play at least somewhat mediocre for most of the year thanks to QB Josh Adkins. Adkins passed for 2,563 yards and added 13 touchdowns on a 56.5% completion rate which should give the Aggies some sense of hope heading into 2019. New Mexico State will also welcome back the running back duo of Jason Huntley and Christian Gibson after they combined for over 1,000 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. The receiving corps also remain fairly intact, although they will need to replace standout Jonathan Boone. As a whole, the offense averaged 25.2 points per game on 371.2 total yards.
As mediocre as the Aggies looked on offense in 2018, it was a drop in the bucket compared to their defensive struggles that lasted pretty much the entire season. New Mexico State surrendered an average of 41.3 points on 475.8 yards of total offense per game to opponents. If that wasn’t bad enough, the defense lost several key players over the summer, as five out of their top eight tacklers are no longer with the program.
Washington State had one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2018, finishing with a stellar 11-2 record and ending in a tie for 1st in the PAC 12 north division. However, the season ended on a bit of a sour note after they failed to qualify for the PAC 12 Championship after losing to Washington in the Apple Cup. They did manage to rebound just in time for the Alamo Bowl though, defeating Iowa State 28-26 to reach the 11-win mark and break the school record. It will be very interesting to see how the Cougars start the year after losing QB Gardner Minshew. The role of starting quarterback appears to be a two-man battle between Gage Gubrud and Anthony Gordon, although it appears that Gordon may have won the job out of camp after an impressive showing. In any event, he should receive a ton of help from the dynamic receiving duo of Davontavean Martin and Dezmon Patten who combined for 1,501 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Cougars were also pretty impressive on the defensive side of the ball in 2018, limiting opponents to an average of just 23.3 points per game on 358.9 total yards of offense. They really did a great job against both the pass and the run, ranking side of the top 50 teams nationwide in both categories.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Washington State -32.5
At first glance, covering this massive spread seems like a pretty tall task for a team starting a brand new quarterback. However, I just don’t have any faith in the New Mexico State defense to slow down a Washington State offense that averaged 37.5 points per game in 2018. While a lot of that success was clearly linked to Minshew’s heroics at quarterback, I still think that the Cougars are talented enough to make a big statement here in Week 1. As mentioned previously, the Aggies were a total disaster on defense last season and ranked almost dead last nationwide in terms of points allowed per game. That’s not the only problem in this matchup though, as New Mexico State lost their top receiving option on an offense that was already well below average to begin with.
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I’m certainly not completely sold on Washington State’s ability to replicate their record-breaking season from 2018. There are still too many unknowns on offense after the departure of a starting quarterback that threw for over 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns. Even so, Mike Leach and the rest of the coaching staff has shown that they have the ability to develop star offensive players and Gordon looks like he has a good chance to have a pretty good year. While taking the Cougars in this spot may seem like a bit of a trap, I just can’t back a New Mexico State team that has major issues on both sides of the ball. I’ll take Washington State to cover at home here in Week 1.