Nov. 5, 2010
TAILGATE COOKOFF CHALLENGE: It might be a perfect afternoon for green chili stew and if your stew is perfect, you probably will win Saturday's challenge. The menu vs. Wyoming calls for green chili stew and the weather should be cool enough to keep the hot stuff down. Want to enter? Come to entry booth located on the North side of University Stadium (Gate 8) next to the KKOB/Budweiser Tailgate Show booth between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. And bring your stew. The weekly winner gets a night's stay at Route 66, a $50 gift certificate to 66's Thunder Road Steakhouse, and a case of Pepsi.
Lobos Football -- Vs. Wyoming -- 4 p.m. Saturday -- University Stadium
TV: The Mtn. (Comcast 276, Cable One 329, DirecTV 616)
Radio: 770 AM KKOB - Lobo Radio Network; Pre-game show at 1 p.m.
Online: GameTracker, Stats, Recap on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The challenge Mike Locksley is throwing at his Lobos on Saturday really goes beyond Xs and Os and even beyond finding a way to finally scratch their way onto the "W" side of the won-loss column.
He also wants his Lobos to man-up a little bit when it comes to getting smashed in the mouth. You know, maybe take a swing or two in retaliation.
"I felt as though they punched us in the mouth and (we) didn't fight back," said Locksley of UNM`s 38-14 loss at Colorado State. "Colorado State played with an intensity that we didn`t play with. That`s disappointing for me."
The 0-8 Lobos obviously have taken a few lumps in 2010 -- especially from the injury bug -- but the Lobos have yet to roll over to a superior opponent. Locksley might have seen a little "roll" in Fort Collins and he wants 100 percent fight to return to his young Lobos.
"We didn't match their (CSU) intensity, but this team will not give up," said Locksley. "This definitely is an important week for us as a football program."
If you toss out things that usually make a difference in winning -- records, talent, site -- Wyoming's visit on Saturday has to go down as UNM's best shot at a victory the rest of the way in 2010. However, it's not the last shot and UNM's competitive coach says every "next" game is the "next" shot at a win.
Still, after Wyoming, it gets tougher: at Air Force, at Brigham Young and then a season-ending game in University Stadium with a TCU club that has a gigantic visit to Salt Lake City to play the Utah Utes. That 1:30 p.m. (MT) kickoff pits No. 4 vs. No. 6. There is a conference title on the line, sure, but this clash of MWC titans also has major bowl implications.
The Wyoming/UNM game brings you to the other side of the MWC standings and it's a similar scenario to what UNM was facing in 2009 when the CSU Rams visited Albuquerque. It's a battle for last place in the conference and although that's not what teams prefer to be battling for, you can bet there is some incentive in not ending up in the MWC cellar.
UNM beat CSU a year ago and it was the Rams who fell into the MWC basement.
Wyoming and UNM are both struggling. The Lobos are 0-8 and 0-4 in league. Wyoming currently resides in the MWC basement with a 0-5 mark. The `Pokes are 2-7 overall. TCU and Utah share the conference lead at 5-0. San Diego State is a surprise 3-1 and Air Force is 3-3. BYU sits at 2-2, CSU is 2-3 and UNLV is a game up on UNM in the win column (win over UNM) at 1-3.
The `Pokes have MWC standouts in Chris Prosinki and Shamiel Gary on defense. The Lobos have Bubba Forrest and Carmen Messina on defense. Neither team's offense has distinguished itself much this season.
The good news for UNM this week is quarterback B.R. Holbrook's sore shoulder has healed enough to put the sophomore into the pocket -- at least for a while. It remains to be seen how his arm will holdup after a few passes -- or after a few hits.
Holbrook was bounced around like a pinball at CSU and that pounding is why he had to leave the game. Locksley also said true freshman Tarean Austin's ankle has healed enough to add him to the QB list along with Stump Godfrey, who took over for Holbrook at CSU.
The Lobos obviously have been damaged by their revolving door quarterbacking, but there also has been a lot of inconsistency up front on by both the offensive and defensive line. The Rams almost ran the ball at will in Fort Collins and the Lobo running game has been anywhere from inconsistent to poor.
"This is a great opportunity to get things rolling and start something big for the next four games," said Lobo freshman center, Dillon Farrell. "I think every Saturday is an opportunity but this one is really a big one for us and I think it's a big one for them, too."
The motivational factor could be huge on Saturday. Have the Cowboys, who were expecting a big season, cashed it in for the year? Have the Lobos been psychologically weakened by losses and mounting injuries? Or is Saturday's game another great opportunity to play a game you love?
Lobo Cody Neely thinks his team will be ready to hit some Cowboys. "Coach always talks about giving high effort and we are a high-effort team," he said. "We know they (Wyoming) are going to be a physical team and we know they are going to play hard.
"We have to do the little things right, which will lead to bigger things."
One area the Lobos need some "bigness" is on the scoreboard. The Lobos are averaging 13.6 points per game. UNM is giving up 43.4 points.
Locksley said his defense had been showing improvement until the CSU game. The Rams rolled out 584 total yards with 328 coming on the ground. CSU scored only seven points in the second half, but seemed to pull its foot off the accelerator in that half.
Wyoming's offense is only a dash better than the Lobos, averaging 15.6 points per game in MWC play. The Cowboys give up 33.6 points in league. UNM scored 14.5 points per game in league play and give up 42.2 points.
In MWC games, Wyoming's offense produces an average of 225 yards and UNM pushes out 265 yards. Wyoming does lead the MWC in interceptions with seven in the Cowboys' five league outings.
The statistical difference between these two teams is marginal, just like the difference between their winless MWC records. "These are two teams which are very similar," said Locksley.
But one thing is certain on Saturday. One of them will be alone in the MWC cellar and the other team will feel like it just won a bowl game.