March 9, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - For the first time in 12 years, the University of New Mexico will open its football season with a conference game as the 2005 schedule has been announced. The Lobos are slated to host UNLV on Saturday, Sept. 3. The last time UNM started the season against a league opponent was Sept. 4, 1993, when BYU played at University Stadium. UNLV will be the Lobos' earliest conference game since Aug. 31, 1991, when they opened at UTEP.
Following UNLV, the Lobos begin the non-conference schedule Sept. 10 on the road against a hungry Big XII team in Missouri, which is led by standout quarterback Brad Smith. The only other meeting between the two schools was in 1980, a 47-16 Tigers win in Columbia.
UNM then returns home on Sept. 17 to face its new-look rivals, New Mexico State, before traveling down the Rio Grande to renew acquaintances with Mike Price's rejuvenated UTEP team on Sept. 24. It's the first of a four-game series between the Lobos and Miners, who have squared off 72 times since 1919 but not since 2001.
The Mountain West Conference schedule offers home games against BYU (Oct. 8), Colorado State (Oct. 29) and Air Force (Nov. 19).
The MWC road trips start Oct. 1 with a visit to new league member TCU. That's followed by journeys to Wyoming (Oct. 15) and San Diego State (Oct. 22), and culminating Nov. 12 at defending MWC champion Utah.
"The schedule will be very challenging once again and our conference has gotten better," eighth-year head coach Rocky Long said. "Last year I thought it was a very young league with the only experienced team being Utah. This year it's a very experienced league and experienced teams usually play better. I think it will be just as competitive, but the quality of football will be better. The road games at Missouri and UTEP will be very challenging for us and the New Mexico State game is always intense."
For the second year in a row and for only the third time since 1994, New Mexico will only play five home games. The road has not seemed to bother the Lobos much the past few seasons, though. They were 4-2 on foreign turf last year, 3-1 in MWC games. UNM is 6-1 in its last seven MWC road games and 10-3 in its last 13.
New Mexico is coming off its third straight winning season and school-record third straight bowl appearance. UNM was 7-5 overall in 2004, 5-2 in the MWC. The Lobos have finished second in the league for three consecutive seasons.
The 2005 Lobos are expected to be very competitive as 43 lettermen - including 17 starters - return. That's nine starters on offense, six on defense and two specialists.
Football season ticket renewals will be mailed April 1. Season tickets for the general public will be available on Monday, June 13.