Senior day was a big hit, as the Cougars rolled over the Aggies of New Mexico State. The game was close early one, with the Cougars leading just 7-0 after the first quarter, but the game was well out of reach by the end of the third, as the lead had been extended to 35-7. Riley Nelson was watching from the sidelines as he continued to recover from a chest/lung injury, but Heaps was more than enough for the Aggies. Here’s a review of what were the keys to the Cougar victory.
Jake Heaps. Jake had a better game than his last start, completing 58% of his passes, going 21/36 for 238 yards, 4 TDs and one INT. Heaps completed just 44% of his passes against Utah State, the lowest in a series of declining percentages that started with a high of just 63% in his first start this season, at Ole Miss. The 58% mark represents his second highest completion percentage (when starting) this season. The 4 TD’s is a season high, and brought his total to 9. The best thing I saw from Heaps was this play (go to the 1:36 mark), in which he escaped pressure in the pocket and still managed to catch JD Falslev on the run down-field for the touchdown. It was a thing of beauty, seeing that Heaps may have learned a thing or two by watching Riley play.
Receivers. Apo was the man tonight, with 5 receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Falslev and Jacobson each had three grabs for 42 and 41 yards, respectively – and JD had the previously mentioned touchdown. Three catches by McKay was a welcome change.
Defense. The Cougar defense really stepped up this week. NMSU actually has a top-25 passing attack, typically averaging around 275 yards through the air. The Cougars limited the Aggies to just 159 passing yards. NMSU rushing totals were also down from 123 (average) to just 90 against the Cougar defense.
What we know about New Mexico State (4-7, 2-3 WAC)
New Mexico State has come a long way this season, but they still have more to do before they can even compete well in the WAC. They have two games left, and need to win both to become bowl eligible. First up next week is Louisiana Tech, followed by Utah State.
What we know about BYU (8-3)
BYU is on its way to the Armed Forces bowl. In two weeks though, they have a trip to Hawaii, and the Cougars will hope to pick up their ninth win of the season down in the islands, as a win there and in their bowl game would do a lot to provide momentum (as well as a 10 win season) for the Cougars as they head into their second year of independence.