Both the New Mexico State Aggies (2-3) and Florida International Panthers (3-2) will seek their first conference wins in 2023 on Wednesday evening when they take on each other in an enticing C-USA matchup at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The spread lines move around 6 points in favor of the New Mexico State, who can ill afford another slip-up after dropping three of the opening five outings.
On the other side, the Panthers have a chance to match last year’s win total already in Week 6, as they benefited from a soft schedule at the beginning of the 2023 campaign.
Here’s what you need to know about the game, including our expert betting predictions and best odds at US sportsbooks for the mid-week Conference USA matchup.
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The Numbers Do Not Look Great for the Panthers
Both teams enter the C-USA matchup off a bye. The Panthers’ three-game winning streak ended two weeks ago as they were blown out by the Liberty 6-38 on the home patch in the most recent affair. They are now 3-2 for the season, but both losses have come at the hands of the conference rivals. Can Florida International snap a negative thread against conference foes here?
It is very hard to see such a scenario happening. The Panthers are struggling to move the ball around on the offensive end. They are 97th in the country in passing yards and 113th in rushing yards per game this season. Mike MacIntyre’s troops have been slightly better in defense, but even there, 25.6 points allowed per game place them at 75th position nationally. When you look at the soft schedule with the games against the likes of Maine, North Texas, UConn, and Louisiana Tech, we must say these are pretty underwhelming statistical parameters.
Quarterback Keyone Jenkins has five touchdowns and four picks this term, completing just over 50% of his 110 passing attempts. Running back Shomari Lawrence tops the team’s rushing charts with 312 yards and two TDs on the ground, while Kris Mitchell is the leader among the receiving corps with 23 receptions for 459 yards and four scores.
New Mexico Made It To a Bowl Game Last Season
New Mexico State got off to a subpar start to the new season after featuring a bowl game with a 7-6 regular season record in 2022. The Aggies began with an ugly performance in a 41-30 defeat to UMass, who have lost every game since the opener. Jerry Kill’s men have alternated wins and defeats since and are currently on a 2-3 overall record after a painful 20-17 loss at Hawaii before a bye week.
The Aggies were 17-3 up at the halftime of the clash against Hawaii and yet conceded 17 unanswered points in the second half, including the final gun field goal by Matthew Shipley. They return to the Aggie Memorial Stadium for the first time in over a month and are 6-point favorites to win. With the support of the local crowd in New Mexico and the strength of the opposition, Kill’s troops should really not allow a mistake here.
New Mexico State has the 21st-best rushing offense in the nation, with 203.8 yards on the ground per game. Interestingly, a dual-threat quarterback, Diego Pavia, leads the team in rushing yards with 268 to his name so far in the season. The main running back option, Star Thomas, has gained 233 yards for three touchdowns on 43 carries this term. Knowing Florida International allows 212.6 rushing yards per game this season, we can see the in-form Aggies’ rushers feasting on Wednesday.
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Best Pick — New Mexico State -6 (-110) with DraftKings
Some sportsbooks have the Aggies as -6.5-point favorites, but DraftKings still keeps the spread at 6 points, which is why we like this pick even more at -110 odds. The Aggies possess more quality in their ranks. They will be super motivated to make amends for some painful defeats (the most recent one against Hawaii) in the first home game in over a month.
They have a top-25 rushing offense in FBS, and they will go up against a leaky rushing defense that has allowed 5 yards per carry this season. We expect a statement from New Mexico State on Wednesday.
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