Two Independents square off on Saturday as the New Mexico State Aggies take on the Liberty Flames in Virginia. The Aggies are 4-6 and coming off a blowout loss to Missouri. The Flames have now lost two straight games after defeating Arkansas three weeks ago. The opening kick is scheduled for 12:00pm in the regular season finale for both teams.
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Not Road ToughThe New Mexico State football team took to the road last week and, unfortunately, the outcome was similar to most of their road games this season. The Aggies spotted Missouri, out of the SEC, a 21-0 lead at halftime and never recovered in a 45-15 road loss. Quarterback Diego Pavia went 6-of-17 through the air for just 76 yards without a touchdown and threw one pick. Freshman Gavin Frakes got some time as well and went 2-of-4 for 39 yards with a pick as well. Frakes ran in for a late score to account for the Aggies' second and final score. Pavia led the Aggies in rushing with 52 yards.
New Mexico State was out-gained 443-259 in total yards by Missouri. They did go a respectable 8-of-16 on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down conversions. They lost the turnover battle 2-0 in the game and their defense didn't generate any sacks and only had two tackles for loss.
The Aggies come in on a one-game losing streak and are just 1-4 away from home this season. They have the 122nd-ranked scoring offense in the country, and they are 80th rushing the ball and 124th passing. The Aggies have struggled with turnovers, ranking 124th in turnover differential in the country. New Mexico State has the 84th-ranked scoring defense in the nation. They are ranked just 99th against the run but are 17th against the pass. They have struggled with the yellow flags as well, ranking 97th in the country.
Looking to Close StrongThe Liberty Flames want to end their season on a high note after being one of the 'feel good' stories of the season thanks to competitive games with power-five conference teams and an eventual defeat of Arkansas out of the SEC. In the last two weeks, however, the Flames have fallen and now sit at 8-3 and need one more strong win to get a quality bowl game. First, Liberty was caught from behind by the suddenly resurgent UConn Huskies and dropped a 36-33 decision on the road. This past week, leading another power-five conference team, Virginia Tech, by five points, Liberty was caught again from behind thanks to a late Hokies touchdown and fell 23-22. Quarterback Charlie Brewer remained out as he continues to recover from a fractured hand suffered in September. The Flames utilized both Kaidon Salter and Johathan Bennett under center. Salter went 12-of-18 for 119 yards and Bennett went 8-of-15 for 98 yards. The duo also combined for 76 yards rushing with Bennett running in for a score.
Liberty will once again head into another week with mystery surrounding the most important position on the field. Brewer has been questionable for nearly a month and the team has added Salter to the mix at quarterback, giving the opposition a lot of film to review. In all, the Flames have produced offensively despite the uncertainty at quarterback. They are ranked 42nd in scoring offense this season. They are 28th in rushing and 69th in throwing the football. Liberty is 72nd in turnover differential this season. Defensively, the Flames are 35th in scoring defense. They are 53rd against the run and 21st against the pass. Liberty is 67th in penalties this season.
Key Injuries: Brewer's status has been up in the air for months at this point.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Flames are significantly better than the Aggies both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Regardless of who is at quarterback, Liberty is able to execute their style of offense. They will utilize their quarterbacks frequently in the running game and all three are equally adept at running the football. This will not bode well for New Mexico State, a team that ranks 99th against the run. On the other side of the ball, Liberty should be able to handle New Mexico State's offense that doesn't shine either passing or running the football. Most importantly, Liberty comes into this matchup on a two-game losing streak and looking to propel themselves into a quality bowl game. This game will be one-sided and Liberty will take out their frustrations on the Aggies.
Take Liberty -24 points.
Full-Game Total Pick
Liberty has not been very prolific scoring the ball at home this season, scoring over 22 points just once this season. New Mexico State has given up an average of 39 points on the road this season although that mark is skewed by the Aggies allowing 66 points to Wisconsin in one game. Both of the teams are under .500 to the over this season. Liberty will win this game comfortably but will keep the struggling Aggies' offense at bay and the score down.
Take the under, 50.5 points.