Coach: Doug Martin (4-20, entering third season; 33-73 overall)
2014 record: 2-10 overall, 1-7 Sun Belt; ninth in Sun Belt
Look back: New Mexico State faces some of the biggest challenges among Football Bowl Subdivision programs, with a relatively small budget and limited recruiting base in southern New Mexico hindering the growth of the program. The team was a member of the Western Athletic Conference and spent one tough 2-10 season as an independent after the WAC dropped football. The Aggies landed in the Sun Belt last season, managing just two wins — one against FCS Cal-Poly and the other against a Georgia State team transitioning to the FBS level.
Offensive starters returning: 8
Offensive starters lost: 3
Defensive starters returning: 9
Defensive starters lost: 2
Key losses: OL Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, WR Adam Shapiro, DE Jay Eakins.
Top returnees: QB Tyler Rogers, WR Teldrick Morgan, RB Larry Rose III, LB Rodney Butler, LB Derek Ibekwe, DB Kawe Johnson.
Strengths: Coach Doug Martin, who previously was the Boston College offensive coordinator and head coach at Kent State, is entering his third season with 17 returning starters who should have a stronger command of his style of play.
Quarterback Tyler Rogers returns to help lead the Aggies’ offense. He should get key help from running back Larry Rose III, who racked up 1,160 yards as a freshman last season and averaged 5.9 yards per carry, and receiver Teldrick Morgan, who caught 75 passes for 903 yards last season.
Defensive back Winston Rose led the Aggies with five interceptions last season and should boost a defense that returns the top four tacklers from 2014.
Weaknesses: New Mexico State had major issues on both sides of the ball, ranking last nationally among 125 NCAA-recognized teams in rushing defense (309.9 yards allowed per game). The team was No. 118 in scoring defense (39.1 points allowed per game) and No. 92 in scoring offense (24.5 points scored per game).
Turnovers were a big problem, with the offense giving up too many and the defense not forcing enough. The team’s turnover margin ranked No. 116 nationally (-1.08).
Outlook: The Aggies run and pass attacks were respectable, ranking No. 49 nationally with 420.9 yards of total offense per game. The secondary was strong and the team ranked No. 6 in passing yards allowed (174.5 per game). New Mexico State returns a slew of starters, but the team is undersized and lacks the strength needed along the front line to stay competitive.
Sept. 5 at Florida
Sept. 12 Georgia State
Sept. 19 UTEP
Oct. 3 at New Mexico
Oct. 10 at Ole Miss
Oct. 17 Georgia Southern
Oct. 24 Troy
Oct. 31 Idaho
Nov. 7 at Texas-State
Nov. 21 at UL-Lafayette
Nov. 28 Arkansas State
Dec. 5 at UL-Monroe
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com