Nov. 3, 2003
The New Mexico Lobos look to get back on the winning track Friday when they host the Colorado State Rams. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Mountain Time from University Stadium in Albuquerque. The clash will be televised live nationally on ESPN2. MWC teams enter the week just 7-11 in conference home games. UNM is 0-2 in such home games in 2003. The Lobos have not lost three straight league games at home since 1998. New Mexico needs to win two of its remaining three games to become bowl eligible.
The Lobos and Rams share identical records: 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the MWC after losses last week. UNM dropped a 37-35 decision at home to UNLV, while CSU fell at Wyoming 35-28. The Lobos committed six turnovers in their loss. New Mexico, Colorado State and Wyoming are all 2-2 in league play. BYU is 3-3. Utah, idle this week, leads the race at 4-1. Air Force resides in second at 3-2. CSU was the preseason pick to win the league.
Since the Mountain West Conference started in 1999, the Lobos have beaten all but one team: Colorado State. UNM is 0-4 against the Rams, 17-11 against the other six schools. UNM has a 6-3 record in November games since 2001. Two of the losses have been to CSU. The Rams are an unbelievable 23-6 in the month of November under head coach Sonny Lubick. They are also 31-9 in conference road games since Lubick took over in 1993.
The Lobos went 4-1 in their last five games in 2001 and in '02. The lone loss each year was to CSU.
After starting 1-3, the Lobos are 4-1, including the school's first four-game winning streak since a 6-0 start to the 1997 season. New Mexico completed its first unbeaten October (3-0) since the 1959 team went 5-0.
Friday's game matches the top-two offenses in the league. New Mexico ranks 1st in the conference in scoring offense (32.2 ppg) and is 2nd in total offense (430.9 ypg). The Rams are 1st in total offense (474.4) and 2nd in scoring (31.2). CSU is 2nd in rushing offense (208.1) and passing offense (266.3), while New Mexico is 3rd in both rushing (199.4) and passing (231.4). Colorado State is tops in the MWC in pass efficiency offense (157.7 rating), but is last in the league in pass efficiency defense (135.42 rating). The Lobos are 5th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 74.8 yards a game. UNM has held its last four opponents to a total of 247 yards on the ground, an average of 61.8 yards. However, the Lobos have given up more passing yards - an average of 267.8 yards a game - than any other team in the MWC. UNM is 4th in the conference in pass efficiency defense, though, with a rating of 119.21.
The Lobos have scored 30 or more points in four straight games for the first time since 1994. New Mexico has never hit 30 in five consecutive games.
An attendance record is certain to fall Friday. UNM has drawn 173,626 fans for five home games, an average of 34,725 a game. The record for total attendance is 187,608 for six games in 2001. The present standard for average - 31,268 also in 2001 - should also be eclipsed later this month.
A victory Saturday would move senior QB Casey Kelly (Portland, Ore.) into the No. 2 spot on the school's all-time win list. Jim Cromartie is the career leader at 18-6 from 1960-62. Kelly, 16-12 as a starter at UNM, is currently tied with his head coach, Rocky Long, and Stan Quintana. Long was 16-10-2 in 28 starts from 1969-71. Quintana was 16-11 from 1963-65.
A win would also guarantee New Mexico its third straight non-losing season for the first time since a seven-year run from 1958-64. The Lobos are 18-15 since 2001.
THE COLORADO STATE SERIES
New Mexico and Colorado State meet for the 51st time since the first game in 1935. CSU has won five straight, including last year's 22-14 win in Fort Collins that clinched the MWC title. DonTrell Moore rushed for a career-high 181 yards, but his two fumbles led to a pair of Ram scores. The Lobos actually outgained CSU 307-252.
CSU has won eight of the past nine and is 15-3 against the Lobos since 1983. UNM's last win was 22-14 in Fort Collins in 1995. New Mexico has lost five straight to Colorado State in Albuquerque. The last victory here was 24-23 in 1988 when the Lobos scored on the game's final play, a TD pass from Jeremy Leach to Tony Jones. The last 9 regular-season games have been decided by 9 points or less.
Playing for a berth in the New Orleans Bowl two years ago in Albuquerque, the Rams took a 24-17 victory. Lobo QB Casey Kelly was intercepted a career-high five times.
In two career games against New Mexico, Rams QB Bradlee Van Pelt has rushed 23 times for 130 yards and 1 TD, and completed 20 of 37 passes for 291 yards, no interceptions and a TD. He surpassed 100 yards rushing and passing last year in Fort Collins.
The Lobos could not overcome six turnovers (three fumbles, three interceptions) in the 37-35 loss despite outgaining the Rebels by an astounding margin of 578 to 229. The befuddling facts and figures:
UNLV scored 17 points off three Lobo turnovers...coming into the game, opponents had scored just 17 points the entire season following 15 UNM giveaways...a DonTrell Moore fumble was returned 61 yards for a TD by Joe Miklos...after UNM had crawled back to trail just 30-28 in the fourth quarter, Jamaal Brimmer scored on a 62-yard interception return that turned out to be the difference in the game
New Mexico lost a fumble on its first offensive play of scrimmage in each half...the first-quarter bobble by WR Adrian Boyd led to a Rebel FG
UNM allowed a 49-yard kickoff return by Dominique Dorsey that led to a 9-yard TD pass...the Lobos yielded a 75-yard punt return right before halftime, which led to a FG and a 27-14 UNLV lead at the break
A roughing-the-punter penalty kept alive a UNLV drive that led to a 50-yard FG in the third quarter and gave the Rebels a 30-21 advantage
Only one of UNLV's five scoring drives was longer than 44 yards
The Rebels lost starting QB Kurt Nantkes midway through the second quarter...UNLV had 30 yards of offense and three first downs in the 2nd half and just 87 yards in the final three quarters...UNM had 316 yards in the 2nd half, 408 yards after the first period
The Lobos were guilty of nine penalties for 96 yards, the second-highest total this season...five of the infractions were dead-ball personal fouls
POSTGAME NOTES FROM UNLV
UNM had six turnovers in a game for the first time since losing six against Utah in 1998. The Lobos had lost only six fumbles the first eight games before Saturday. New Mexico is now 4-26 under Rocky Long when it commits more turnovers than the opponent.
The 429 passing yards rank 5th-best all-time at UNM and are the most since Jeremy Leach tossed for a school-record 622 yards at Utah in 1989.
Casey Kelly set a career-high with 408 yards passing, which ties for the 6th-highest total in UNM history. It's the most since Leach threw for 427 yards against Hawaii in 1991. Kelly's 23 completions are also a career-high. He had 410 yards of total offense, 8th on the Lobos' list and the most since Stoney Case collected 413 yards against Colorado State in 1994.
Senior WR Dwight Counter (Lancaster, Texas) caught 6 passes for a career-high 171 yards, including a 71-yard TD pass. Senior WR Adrian Boyd (Flint, Mich.) grabbed a career-best 9 passes for 103 yards and a 21-yard TD from TB DonTrell Moore. Counter and Boyd became the first receiving tandem to reach 100 yards in a game since 1991 when Carl Winston (156) and Manley Woods (113) did so against San Diego State.
Senior DE Zack Rupp (Pleasant Grove, Utah) had an unbelievable game. Seemingly unstoppable all night, Rupp logged a career-high 15 tackles, including a whopping 5.5 stops behind the line. He had 1.5 sacks and caused a fumble that UNM converted into a TD. Rupp's 15 tackles matches the most by a Lobo in a game this season. He now leads the MWC with 13.5 tackles for loss. He has 10 TFLs in four conference games.
The Lobo defense had its 2nd-best effort of the season, holding the Rebels to just 229 yards. Utah State totaled 221 yards on Oct. 4. In conference games only, New Mexico leads the MWC in total defense, allowing just 307.2 yards a game. Lobo defenders have given up just nine TDs in four league games.
WORDS FROM ROCKY
(on UNLV) -- "We made way too many mistakes to win a football game. We had way too many penalties, gave up kick returns, roughed punters, had six turnovers, didn't tackle very well the first half; thousands of mistakes and that's why you don't win football games."
"I don't think this has anything to do with them celebrating the Utah game (too long). We played a lousy football game. We made way too many mistakes. It has nothing to do with last week."
(on Colorado State) -- "We will certainly have to play a lot better against CSU this week to have a chance to win. Turnover margin is very significant to winning and losing games. It's probably amazing that we were in the game against UNLV conbsidering the margin. Both teams lost some momentum last week, but expect both teams to be ready on Friday. There is still a lot to play for. Both teams' defenses are good enough to hold down the offenses, but if the game turns into a field position battle, it could be high scoring. A short field due to turnovers would be a huge advantage for either team. This could be a postseason elimination game for us. While we would not be done mathematicaaly, a loss could eliminate our bowl possibilities. This will be a big challenge against a very good football team. I expect both teams to play with a sense of urgency."