The University of New Mexico closes out its regular season Saturday by hosting the Wyoming Cowboys. UNM and UW get underway at 1:05 p.m., Mountain Time from University Stadium in Albuquerque. The game will be televised live by ESPN+Plus with local availability provided by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque. It's also part of the ESPN GamePlan package. The Lobos are playing at home for the first time since Oct. 23.
Now bowl eligible at 6-4 overall, UNM is looking for its first 5-game winning streak under Rocky Long and its best run since going 6-0 to start the 1997 season under Dennis Franchione. Picked to finish fourth in the MWC, the Lobos are 4-2 in league play and can claim no worse than a second-place tie with a win against the Cowboys. New Mexico would finish second outright for the third straight season if Utah beats BYU Saturday in Salt Lake City.
New Mexico is 5-6 all-time on ESPN+Plus, but the Lobos have won four straight since a loss to BYU in 2001.
If the Lobos are invited to a bowl game, they would be the only team in the Mountain West Conference to do so each of the past three seasons. UNM has been eligible four straight years, but was not invited in 2001 after finishing 6-5. New Mexico played in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2002 and 2003.
The Cowboys, picked to finish last in the MWC preseason poll, are 6-4 overall and bowl eligible for the first since since 1999. UW fell to 3-3 in the league after suffering a 45-28 loss to undefeated Utah last Saturday in Laramie. The Pokes are tied with Colorado State for fourth place. Wyoming has 10 wins in two seasons under current head coach Joe Glenn after going 5-29 in three years under Vic Koenning.
A win over Wyoming would add to the Lobos' growing list of accomplishments over the past few seasons: It would give them 15 victories in conference play since 2002, the most ever in a three-year span. It would be the 22nd win in the past three seasons, tying for the most in program history. The Lobos won 22 from 1962-64. It would be, however, the first time that New Mexico has won at least seven games in three consecutive seasons.
The Lobos lead the MWC in rushing defense (99.8 ypg), total defense (321.9 ypg), scoring defense (18.1 ppg) and are 2nd in pass defense efficiency with a rating of 113.46. Wyoming`s top statistical ranking is an offense that averages 28.5 points a game, 2nd best in the MWC and 43rd nationally. The Cowboys are averaging 232.2 passing yards a game. In last year's 26-3 win at Laramie, the Lobos rushed for 336 yards and held the Pokes to 23 yards on the ground and 122 yards of total offense. UW has allowed 90 points in their past two games, although one was a 53-45 triple-overtime victory at UNLV, which snapped a 17-game losing streak in MWC road games. The total is 146 points in their last four contests, or 36.5 points a game. New Mexico has surpassed 30 points just once in its past 13 games, winning 38-3 at New Mexico State on Sept. 25.
WEEKLY BRIEFING - New Mexico will set a school attendance record for the third time in the past four seasons. Through four home games, UNM's average attendance is 37,769. A crowd of 24,561 is needed Saturday for the Lobos to surpass last year's standard of 35,127 set in seven games.
The turnovers continue to mount for the Lobos - and that's a good thing. New Mexico is 2nd in the MWC and tied for 5th nationally with an all-game turnover margin of +1.3 (27 takeaways to 14 giveaways). The margin is even better in six MWC games at +2.16 (17 to 4) and it's an amazing 14-2 ratio during the four-game winning streak. The past seven games, New Mexico has forced 19 turnovers while losing it just five times.
Rocky Long has been the Lobo head coach for more games than any previous mentor. His 83rd game at his alma mater came last week at BYU, surpassing Bill Weeks, who compiled a 40-41-1 ledger from 1960-67. Long is 38-44 into his seventh season. In terms of total seasons, only Roy Johnson (11) and Bill Weeks (8) have been at UNM for more time than Long.
Junior TB DonTrell Moore enjoys playing in November. The MWC's career rushing leader has suited up nine times in the 11th month of the year, carrying 243 times for 1,335 yards and 14 TDs. That's an average of 148.3 yards a game. Moore needs 68 yards to become only the second Lobo to reach 1,000 yards in third consecutive season. Mike Williams, the school's career rushing leader, did so from 1976-78.
The win at BYU provided a hearty list of accomplishments:
> bowl eligibility for the 4th straight season > 4 straight wins overall, tying the longest streak under head coach Rocky Long > 4 road wins in one season for the first time since 1997 (4-1)
> made the Lobos 6-1 in their last seven MWC road games, 8-2 in their last 10 and 10-3 in their last 13
> at least 4 conference wins in three straight years for only the second time in school history (also 1958-60)
> back-to-back wins at BYU for the first time
> at least 6 wins in four straight years for first time since 1961-64 > clinched a 4th straight non-losing season for the first time since 1958-64
> a 10-3 record in November games since 2001
> gave New Mexico 11 straight wins following scheduled off weeks, including 8 consecutive under Rocky Long
GAME SPONSORS / PROMOTIONS - Game sponsors include Isleta Casino and Resort and Wild 106. It's Senior Day as UNM bids farewell to the seniors. It's also Heroes Day with a large pregame flag presentation and a military flyby. Isleta Casino and Resort will hand out Lobo Bottle coozies, while Chevron will distribute 2,500 free mini-cars after the game. There will be a halftime performance by the Razzle Dazzle group. Fans are encouraged to bring canned goods or non-perishable food items to the game to benefit the Albuquerque Rescue Mission
SENIORS SAY GOODBYE - A total of 20 seniors will make their final appearance at University Stadium this Saturday. Each senior will be individually recognized prior to kickoff:
TE Mike Augustyniak Edgewood, New Mexico
S Josh Bazinet Albuquerque
FB Landrick Brody Lancaster, Texas
DE Kyle Coulter Bixby, Oklahoma
RB D.D. Cox Westminster, Colorado
FB Jesse Demarest Albuquerque
QB Tali Ena Prosser, Washington
LB Fola Fashola Marshall, Texas
OG Melvin Foster Window Rock, Arizona
WR Curtis Flakes Lufkin, Texas
LB Chrishone Harris Austin, Texas
K Katie Hnida Littleton, Colorado
OG Bryan Humphreys Albuquerque
CB Brandon Payne Dayton, Texas
WR Martin Romero Fort Collins, Colorado
DE Ryan Rice Lakewood, Colordo
LB Nick Speegle Albuquerque
OT Claude Terrell LaMarque, Texas
S Kevin Walton Denver, Colorado
K Wes Zunker New Braunfels, Texas
SLOW STARTS, FAST FINISHES - That's been the story of Lobo football the past few seasons. As the leaves start to fall, so do the opponents. A look at UNM's recent record:
Year Start Finish (Regular Season Only)
2000 0-3 5-4
2001 2-4 4-1
2002 2-4 / 3-5 5-2 / 4-1
2003 1-3 7-1
2004 2-4 4-0
COACH LONG SAYS - (on BYU) -- "I thought we really played hard, but could have played better on offense, defense and special teams. We were not real sharp and looked a little rusty at the start, but it wasn't from lack of effort. It's exciting to think we didn't play our best game and still won."
(on Wyoming) -- "What a great season for Joe Glenn and Wyoming. They will try and spread us out on offense and they are playing dramatically better on defense than the past few seasons. Utah is having a wonderful season, but to have a team picked to finish last in the league and go into the final game of the season with a chance to finish second, then Joe should get some votes for coach of the year. We won't need any motivation for Saturday's game. We know we're bowl eligible, but we also know that the only way to guarantee a bowl spot is to win the game this week. There's still a chance we could be home watching all the (bowl) games if we don't put forth the required preparation this week. Our players know the importance of the game, especially the seniors who are playing their last home game. I know they would like to extend the season."
THE WYOMING SERIES - This is the 57th meeting in a series that started in 1930. Wyoming leads 31-25, but UNM has won four in a row for the first time since a seven-game run from 1969-75. The Lobos have won four of five in MWC play, including last year's 26-3 season-ending victory in Arctic conditions in Laramie. The 23-point margin is UNM's largest at Wyoming.
New Mexico has won three straight over the Pokes in Albuquerque, dating to 1993, but UW has a 16-13 edge in games in the Duke City. The Lobos have recorded 16 sacks on Cowboy quarterbacks the past two years, nine in 2002 and seven last year.
UNM head coach Rocky Long was Wyoming's defensive coordinator and secondary coach under Al Kincaid from 1981-85.
LAST YEAR AT LARAMIE - New Mexico's final regular-season game of 2003 was played on November 22nd, and, at the time, it was Wyoming's latest home game since 1939. Keeping an eye on the forecast during the week of the game, the weather was expected to be miserable: Bitter cold with wind and snow. Mother Nature kept her promise.
As is customary on UNM's road trips, the traveling party departed Albuquerque the day before the game due to arrive at the Laramie airport around 6 p.m. Due to blowing snow, the plane was unable to land in Laramie and was diverted to Denver International Airport, about 125 miles away. The plane landed, waited, then decided to make another attempt at landing in Laramie. The second try was also aborted as conditions worsened. Back to DIA as athletics department officials scurried to find ground transportation from Denver to Laramie.
A couple of buses were rounded up for the team, while vans and cars were rented for the remainder of the traveling party. After a team dinner at Burger King in the Denver airport, the buses headed for Wyoming around 11 p.m. Four hours later, the team pulled into its Laramie hotel and trudged through half-a-foot of snow in their tennis shoes. Kickoff was less than nine hours away.
With Friday's team dinner long pitched in the trash and position meetings cancelled, the Lobos got about four hours of sleep. The wake-up call was 7:30 a.m., and the pregame meal began at 8:00 a.m. A few meetings followed, then it was time to head for the stadium.
At 10:30 a.m., Lobo starting offensive linemen Justin Colburn, Ryan Cook and Jason Lenzmeier walked onto the field at War Memorial Stadium in shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. They stayed for about two minutes. At the same time, the Wyoming grounds crew was busy removing snow from a frozen field.
Kickoff was 12:07 p.m. The weather? Snow, wind, a temperature of nine degrees with a wind chill of minus-5, and that was as warm as it would get all afternoon.
On a day when the mailman would have called in sick, the Lobos were unfazed by all the obstacles. The final score was 26-3 in UNM's favor, its biggest win ever in Laramie. UNM gained 413 yards of total offense as a dominating offensive line plowed holes for running backs DonTrell Moore and D.D. Cox, both who snow-shoed their way to more than 100 yards rushing. "Mush" took the place of "hike," on this day. The Lobo defense held the Cowboys to their lowest point (3) and yardage (122) totals of the season.
The team was bused to Cheyenne after the game to catch the charter flight home. Of course, the plane was two hours late due to weather. UNM landed in Albuquerque about 10 p.m., ending one of the more memorable odysseys in Lobo football history. Wyoming hosted UNLV a week later. Temperature at kickoff? 50 degrees.
TWO YEARS AGO AT ALBUQUERQUE - UNM won 49-20, clinching a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl. Then a freshman, DonTrell Moore rushed for 176 yards and tied a school record by scoring five TD's. Casey Kelly was 7-11 passing for 164 yards and a career-high 4 TDs. He also rushed for a career-best 84 yards. The Lobo defense was equally impressive, sacking Casey Bramlett a school-record-tying nine times and holding him to 203 yards passing, more than 77 yards under his season average. New Mexico forced three Bramlett interceptions, two by safety Brandon Ratcliff.
WYOMING NOTES - Wyoming was 4-8 last year and finished tied for 7th in the MWC at 2-5. Head coach Joe Glenn (South Dakota State `71) is 168-71-1 in his 31st year overall and 10-12 in his 2nd campaign with the Cowboys. Glenn is 0-1 against the Lobos. Before coaching Montana to the Div. I-AA national championship in 2000, he guided Northern Colorado to consecutive Div. II titles in 1996 and `97.
Wyoming's 53-45 triple overtime win at UNLV on November 6th, snapped a 17-game losing streak in conference road games. Back-up QB J.J. Raterink was the unlikely hero in that game. Having thrown just 27 passes in his four-year career, Raterink was summoned after starter Corey Bramlet went down with a hip pointer on the first series of the game. Raterink completed 22 of 36 passes for 227 yards, four TDs and just one interception and was named co-MWC Offensive Player of the Week.
Junior WR Jovon Bouknight has at least two receptions in all 34 games he's played at Wyoming. He caught 6 passes for 142 yards and 2 TDs against Utah.
BYU REVIEW - The 21-14 victory at BYU gives New Mexico back-to-back wins in Provo for the first time in the 54-year history of the series...the Lobos ended a 31-year drought with their 20-16 triumph in 2002
It was another salty performance by the Lobo defense as it forced a season-high 7 sacks and caused 3 turnovers, including a fumble in the final minute to seal the win
Thanks to the sacks, BYU was held to 58 yards on the ground and 317 total yards, its lowest output since gaining 221 yards against Southern Cal on September 18th...the Cougars came into the game having gotten 90 points and 1,053 yards in their previous two games
The 7 sacks are the most since the 2003 regular season finale at Wyoming...several of the sacks were a direct result of tight coverage in the secondary....BYU notched just 2 sacks, allowing the Lobos to take over the MWC lead with 34...six different players dropped BYU QB John Beck, including redshirt freshman Michael Tuohy who had a career-high 2 sacks from his defensive end position...a starter the past four games, Tuohy has 3.5 sacks the past 3 games
New Mexico forced 3 more turnovers, while committing just one...UNM is now +13 (27-14) on the season in turnover margin...it's +13 (17-4) in 6 league games and a remarkable14-2 difference during the 4-game winning streak
Junior cornerback Gabriel Fulbright notched his career-high 5th interception of the year and 9th of his career, tying for 10th all-time at UNM...he also caused the game-preserving fumble in the closing minute of the game and made 3 tackles...Fulbright and teammate Brandon Payne have combined for 10 picks this season, the best of any cornerback duo in the Mountain West Conference
The league's best rushing defense held BYU RB Curtis Brown to a mere 14 yards on 11 carries, snapping his streak of four straight games over 100 yards...Brown had been averaging 117.6 yards in MWC play and 76.8 yards rushing overall...the past 3 games, New Mexico has allowed 74 total yards rushing (24.7 avg.) and 783 yards of total offense (261 avg.)
BYU receiver Todd Watkins was stifled for 1 catch and 6 yards...he came into the contest 5th in the nation in yardage at 110.6 yards a game
Junior TB DonTrell Moore became the school's career scoring leader when he punched in a 1-yard TD in the fourth quarter...he has 246 career points, surpassing former K David Margolis, who had 244 from 1989-91
With 101 hard-earned yards on 25 carries, Moore went over 100 yards rushing for the fourth straight game on the road, fifth time overall this season and 18th time in his career...he had 44 yards in the fourth quarter alone when UNM was protecting the lead...Moore now has 3,516 career rushing yards and 41 TDs
Junior WR Hank Baskett turned in one of his best games of the year after giving his left knee bruise time to heal over the bye week...Baskett notched his third 100-yard game of the year, finishing with 125 yards on just 4 catches...included was a leaping 29-yard finger-tip grab in the back of the end zone for his third TD of the season
Sophomore QB Kole McKamey completed 7-12 passes for 143 yards, his best output in 7 games, since throwing for 173 yards vs. Texas Tech...McKamey had a streak of 79 straight pass attempts without an interception snapped at the end of the 2nd quarter...he hadn't thrown a pick in 4 games, since the 3rd quarter of the Utah game...New Mexico is 5-1 this season when both McKamey and DonTrell Moore are in the starting lineup
New Mexico's 14 points in the first quarter - coming in a span of 3 plays - are the most in the opening period since also scoring 14 vs. UNLV on Nov. 1, of last year...the Lobos needed just 80 seconds to register its two 1st-quarter TDs
Conversley, when they needed a clock-eating drive late in the game, they got it...the Lobos recorded their longest scoring drive of the year in terms of plays, yards and time of possession...New Mexico drove the ball 87 yards on 15 plays, using up 7:52 of the third and fourth quarters...DonTrell Moore plunged in for a 1-yard TD to give the Lobos a 21-7 lead with 8:37 remaining in the game
Senior OG Bryan Humphreys started for the departed Fred Tucker...that ended a 9-game string where UNM employed the same five starters on the offensive line
New Mexico blanked a BYU team that had scored 44 points in the 3rd period of its last two games...the Lobos have outscored their opponents 80-19 in the third quarter and it's 66-9 over the past 8 games
Senior LB Nick Speegle continued his stellar play, notching 5 tackles, a 7-yard sack and a fumble recovery...Speegle, who has started 40 straight games, now has 301 career tackles to tie Robert Rumbaugh for 17th place all-time at UNM...he is just 2 stops from passing John Bell (302) for No. 16 on the list
The Lobos were 2-2 in the red zone, scoring a pair of TDs...UNM has converted 8 straight times the past three games, getting 5 TDs and 3 FGs...on the defensive side, opponents are just 5-10 in the red zone the past 3 games with 4 TDs and a FG...foes have missed 3 FGs, been stopped on downs and thrown an interception