When New Mexico is running the ball: For the first time in five seasons, the Lobo running back coming at CSU’s defense will not be DonTrell Moore. In his four games against CSU, Moore scorched the Rams for 694 yards and seven touchdowns. The replacement for Moore, Rodney Ferguson, has shown that he doesn’t mind filling a superstar’s shoes. Ferguson has run for 668 yards in eight games this season, including an impressive 59-yard fourth quarter last week against the Utah Utes. CSU’s rushing defense has been depleted by injuries but is still holding opponents to a respectable 3.4 yards per carry.
When New Mexico is passing the ball: For second week in a row, the Rams are facing a redshirt freshman quarterback who has started two career games. And just like Karsten Sween a week ago, Donovan Porterie won both of his only career starts. Porterie has proven he can take care of the ball, throwing for five touchdowns this season compared with two interceptions. But Porterie’s victories came against Nevada-Las Vegas and Utah, both of which rank in the bottom-half in national pass defense rankings. CSU, on the other hand, is 13th in the nation and will be fired up after giving up two second-half touchdowns last week versus Wyoming.
When CSU is running the ball: Gartrell Johnson only had nine carries against Wyoming. However, he has looked good in flashes during the Rams’ last three games. Johnson apparently has not played well enough for the NCAA, who lists his first name as “Michael” not Gartrell on their official stat Web site. Ouch. Look for Nnamdi Ohaeri and Michael Myers to get a handful of carries sprinkled in with Johnson. New Mexico’s defense is being led into the game by linebacker Quincy Black. Black, who is UNM’s best linebacker since some guy named Brian Urlacher, is eighth in the nation with 81 tackles on the season.
When CSU is passing the ball: In his last six quarters, quarterback Caleb Hanie has thrown four interceptions and no touchdowns. Hanie, however, continues to put up good numbers with more than 200 yards thrown in all but one game this season. Another positive for Hanie and the Rams is that Hanie’s career high in passing yards came against the Lobos in 2004. A repeat performance would give CSU a win this year.
Prediction: New Mexico has won two conference games in a row, while the Rams are coming off two straight defeats. However, nothing cures a losing sickness like coming back home. Sonny Lubick’s squads almost always deliver at home against conference opponents. Look for midnight to strike for Porterie’s Cinderella start to his career.
Final Score: CSU 23, UNM 14
Sports editor Mike Donovan can be reached at email@example.com.