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Stevens: A Winless Season Will End For Either Lobos or Aggies
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/08/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 8, 2010

Lobo Football
Saturday:
Lobos at New Mexico State, 6 p.m. - Aggie Memorial Stadium
On The Radio: 770-AM KKOB/Lobo Radio Network/ Pregame at 3 p.m.
On TV: Aggie Vision -- Comcast 77, DirecTV 682
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - You really can't throw the records out for this one because the stains on the won-lost column for Lobos and Aggies are deep and hurtful and penetrating. The records are too haunting, too ugly, too much in need of change. Too meaningful.

Lobos: 0-5. Aggies: 0-4.

There is no balance there for either team. The scales dip heavily in the wrong and joyless direction. There is a goose egg on one side and "ouch" on the other.

There is nothing good reflected in those marks for New Mexico or New Mexico State because scoreboards and records only reflect success or failure. They are the base and heartless measurements of a season and a team.

Both Lobos and Aggies have walked off battle-torn fields, looked up at the bright numbers, and seen nothing but failure on those uncaring boards that do not reflect effort or pride or heartfelt motivation.

But for one team it all changes. For one team the pressure of a winless season is removed and for one Saturday the joy reflected on the winner's face will have erased the pain brought on by the preceding losses. And they will have beaten their instate rival. There will be joy in Albuquerque or Cruces.

So, who will it be: winless Aggies or winless Lobos?

There are two ways to look at the won-lost records the Lobos and the Aggies bring into Saturday's battle to claim a state's bragging rights for a year.

1- The numbers reflect a game of little significance.
2- The numbers reflect a game of great impact and great consequence.

You can look at NMSU's 0-4 slate and UNM's 0-5 slate and declare it's not a "big" game in the traditional sense of the word. For sure, the game has no relevance regarding conference races or future bowl bids.

If you have no wins at this point of the season, you have bigger things to worry about than fantasizing over huge turnarounds, league titles or postseason play.

You simply need to pull yourself off the canvas. You have to give your season a pulse.

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The won-lost column is the base and heartless meaurement of a season and a team. On Saturday, either Lobos or Aggies will pull themselves off the canvas, change that measurement and give their season a pulse.
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That's the significance of the Lobos vs. Aggies tussle in Aggie Memorial Stadium. Both of these teams are in a dramatic battle of pride that extends well beyond a turf war between rivals.

These are desperate times. Both these teams need a win to at least temporarily quiet the unrest and the turmoil that comes from seasons gone awry. They need a win because only the victor can claim without a doubt that there will be no winless season on that side of the field.

For the losers ... well, maybe it's best to concentrate on the rivalry aspect of Lobos and Miners.

"This is s a rivalry I grew up watching," said Lobo Freddy Young, whose father played seven seasons in the NFL after graduating from New Mexico State. "I've been going to these games all my life. It's a little extra motivation for me.

"My dad's a New Mexico State legend and all that stuff, but I'm a Lobo and these are my brothers here. I'm going to do everything I can to help my brothers come up with that victory."

The rivalry thing might take a backseat to one team finally claiming a victory in 2010, but the turf war is a key playing card. The Aggies beat the Lobos in 2009 up in University Stadium and that was a year-long bummer.

If Mike Locksley's Lobos drop two straight - well, double bummer. So what do the Lobos have to do to win? There are lots of things.

First, the Lobos need to run the ball, but they are without their leading rusher Demond Dennis, who is sitting out the week to concentrate on books rather than playbook.

QB Tarean Austin


Second, the Lobos need to generate some consistent offense and it would be nice if their No. 1 quarterback, B.R. Holbrook, was healthy to go against an Aggie team that is not Oregon, not Texas Tech, not Utah, not UTEP and probably not UNLV. Holbrook might play. He might not.

Third, the Lobos need to put pressure on Aggie quarterback Matt Christian, who may or may not be healthy for the UNM game. The Lobos also are without one of their top rush men in Johnathan Rainey, who is out for the season with a neck injury.

Fourth, the Lobos need to do better on special teams, especially on kickoffs where the Aggies have Taveon Rogers, one of the top return men in the nation.

There are many similarities between Lobos and Aggies, two depth-challenged teams playing battered and bruised and not playing particularly well.

The Aggies score 11.8 points a game and give up 46 points. UNM scores 12.2 points and gives up 52.6.

The Aggies average 276.8 yards on offense and UNM averages 259.6. NMSU yields an average of 541.8 yards and the Lobos bend at a 492 average. The score could be 48-45 or 13-10.

It's possible that one team will finally put it all together and snatch a win. It's possible that one team will shoot itself in the foot and give the game away. It's possible that both teams will do a little of both and it will be a dogfight to the end.

Most likely, it will be the combination thing. Neither of these teams appear ready to play mistake-free ball accented by flawless execution.

The only thing for sure is that at the game's end, New Mexico will have one major college football team sporting a win. The other one will be sporting a black eye and carrying a world of pain deeper into a season of pain.

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net.

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