Saturday: New Mexico (0-1, 0-0 Mountain West) vs. UTEP (0-0, 0-0 Conference USA)
Time: 6 p.m. MDT
TV: Fox College Sports
Radio: Lobo Radio Network -- KKOB-AM 770
The University of New Mexico football team looks for its first win of the season when it travels to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners on Saturday. It’s UTEP’s season opener.
After ending a 24-game road losing streak and an 18-game Mountain West road losing streak in 2012, UNM coach Bob Davie has another opportunity to end an 0-fer. The Lobos have lost 15 in a row in games played in the state of Texas. UNM’s last win in the Lone Star State was a 40-10 triumph over TCU in 1997. UTEP owns three of those wins during the Lobos’ drought (13-10 in 1999, 21-13 in 2005 and 10-6 in 2007).
UTEP’s 21-13 win at the Sun Bowl in 2005 was especially damaging because the Lobos had started the season 3-0 for the first time since 1997 and were coming off a road win at Missouri. UNM wobbled the rest of the way, finishing the season 6-5 and missing out on the postseason for the first time in four years.
UNM also is winless in road openers since 2006, the last a 34-28 victory over New Mexico State in Las Cruces.
The Lobos have averaged a respectable 165 rushing yards per game in their last two games, dating to 2012. In the nine games before that, however, the Lobos averaged 349.2 per game as they set a school record with nine consecutive games of 300 rushing yards or more.
New Mexico senior running back Kasey Carrier moved into eighth place on the school’s all-time rushing list with his 54 rushing yards vs. UTSA last week. He surpassed Lennox Gordon for eighth and now has 2,165 career yards.
Sophomore quarterback Cole Gautsche (Rio Rancho, N.M.) recorded his third career 100-yard rushing performance with his 118-yard effort against UTSA. He is the first Lobo QB to have three career 100-yard rushing games since Kole McKamey (2002-05).
Lobo senior punter Ben Skaer continued where he left off in 2012 when he ranked 17th in the nation in punting and helped UNM finish atop the Mountain West in net punting. On Saturday, Skaer punted seven times for an average of 47.0 yards and a net punting average of 44.4 yards. He hit three punts 50 yards or more and landed four inside the 20 — two of those were downed at the 1.
The Miners start a new era with first-year coach Sean Kugler, a former UTEP offensive lineman. The Miners, who finished 3-9 last season, return leading rusher Nathan Jeffery and leading receiver Jordan Leslie. UTEP also has its sack leader, Horace Miller, back on defense.
The Lobos have been the Miners’ season-opening opponent five times — in 1935, 1991, 1999, 2001 and 2007. The game in 2007 was a defensive struggle. UNM outgained UTEP 383-195 in total yards but could not find the end zone as the Miners eked out a 10-6 win.
Lobo kicker John Sullivan, who would garner All-America honors in 2007, had two of his three missed opportunities during the regular season come in that game against the Miners.
The teams, who were both longtime members of the Western Athletic Conference, have faced each other just seven times since UNM left the WAC to join the MW in 1998. The Miners have a 5-2 record against the Lobos during that span and are 3-0 in the Sun Bowl.
Eight Lobos played in UNM’s last game against UTEP, a 38-20 loss at University Stadium in 2010. Running back Kasey Carrier rushed 12 times for 58 yards. The other Lobos who played were tight end Andrew Aho, linebacker Dallas Bollema, safety Dante Caro, center Dillon Farrell, offensive tackle Darryl Johnson, offensive guard Calvin McDowney and punter Ben Skaer.