Nov. 23, 2003
LAS VEGAS -- - University of New Mexico director of athletics Rudy Davalos and head football coach Rocky Long announced today that New Mexico (8-4/5-2 MWC) has accepted a bid to play in the Las Vegas Bowl scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 24. The Lobos will return to Las Vegas for the second consecutive year to face the fifth-place Pac-10 team in a match-up to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 4:30 p.m. (PT).
New Mexico finished the season with seven wins in its last eight games to secure the berth in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Lobos culminated the season yesterday with a convincing 26-3 victory over Wyoming in Laramie. UNM will make consecutive bowl appearances for the first time in 57 years (1946 Sun Bowl & 1947 Harbor Bowl).
"We found out this morning that we were the unanimous choice of the Las Vegas Bowl board to participate in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Eve," said Davalos. "This bowl game is the culmination of a season for the best Lobo football team probably since the Bill Weeks era in the early '60s. Rocky has done a tremendous job, as well as his staff and players. We're thrilled to death to be going. We deserve to go and I think we're the best team in the (Mountain West) conference."
The Lobos will make their eighth bowl appearance, including their third in the last seven seasons. In its previous seven bowl games, New Mexico has a record of 2-4-1. Last year, UCLA hoisted the Las Vegas Bowl championship trophy after defeating New Mexico 27-13 before a paid attendance of 30,324, the second most in Las Vegas Bowl history.
"We had a great time last year and the people in Las Vegas took great care of us," said Long. "Last year we used the game as a celebration - we're going out there to win this year."
Las Vegas Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said that Oregon State University will likely represent the Pac-10 Conference in Las Vegas.
"I have some ties to Oregon State and our defensive coordinator (Osia Lewis) has ties to Oregon State," said Long, who served as the Beavers' defensive coordinator from 1991-95. Current UNM coordinator Osia Lewis is a 1986 OSU grad, playing linebacker for the Beavers from 1982-85. Lewis later coached with Long in Corvallis, serving as the outside linebackers/special teams coach from 1991-96.
"If it is Oregon State, it'll be an interesting match-up," said Long. "Two great running backs (UNM's DonTrell Moore and OSU's Steven Jackson) and two great rushing defenses would make it a fun game to watch."
The 12th Las Vegas Bowl will be broadcast live on ESPN. The host hotel for New Mexico is the Golden Nugget. Fans can call the Golden Nugget at (800) 634-3454 for more information although packages through UNM will be available very soon.
"We've always said that we wanted to select a team that was playing well at the end of the year and New Mexico has won seven of eight," said Kunzer-Murphy. "I think we picked the best team that's playing in the Mountain West Conference today and we're excited to have New Mexico once again in our bowl game. We think the New Mexico fans that came here last year know that you can get to Las Vegas easily, that you can have a great time here and that the Golden Nugget and the rest of the downtown properties roll out the red carpet to the Lobo fans. We know that Lobo fans love Las Vegas and we're just delighted that you're going to be here."
The Las Vegas Bowl will be played at the 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium. Tickets will be available in Albuquerque in the near future. Additional information about the game can be viewed at www.lvbowl.com.