Saturday: UNLV (2-2, 0-0 Mountain West) at New Mexico (1-2, 0-0 MW)
Time/Location: 6 p.m. on Branch Field at University Stadium
TV: ROOT Sports (Comcast 261, DirecTV 684, Dish 448); Mountain West Network
Radio: Lobo Radio Network (770 KKOB-AM)
Game Promotions: UNM Homecoming -- Court announced during a 25-minute halftime; 1985 Lobo baseball team recognized; T. Michael Williams, the first ASUNM African-American president, recognized; Postgame Balloon Glow, courtesy Rainbow Ryders, Hot Air Balloon Ride Company.
The University of New Mexico returns from an off week to enter Mountain West play Saturday when it hosts UNLV on Branch Field at University Stadium for the Lobos’ Homecoming game. New Mexico is 3-11 all-time in MW openers, its last win coming in 2005 on Labor Day, a 24-22 win over UNLV.
Last week’s bye week was the first for UNM during second-year coach Bob Davie’s tenure. The Lobos have lost their last four games after bye weeks, but won 10 of their previous 11 (not counting the Sept. 22, 2001 game vs. Baylor, a 16-13 overtime loss; the Lobos were scheduled to play Sept. 15 that season but the game was postponed due to the Sept. 11 attacks).
The Lobos are 42-43-3 all-time in Homecoming games. UNLV has been UNM’s foe twice. The teams have split wins during Lobo Homecoming games. The Lobos beat UNLV 27-6 in 1999, and UNLV beat UNM 34-17 in 2009.
UNM running back Kasey Carrier enters Saturday’s game against the Rebels as the nation’s 12th-ranked rusher and the Mountain West leader. The senior from Pearland, Texas, is averaging 122.3 yards per game on the ground.
Sophomore kick returner Carlos Wiggins ranks seventh nationally with an average of 35.2 yards per attempt. Senior punter Ben Skaer is No. 16 in the country with an average of 44.7 yards per punt.
New Mexico is nationally ranked in several categories. It is No. 6 in the nation in fewest penalty yards, giving up 26.0 per game. The Lobos rank eighth in net punting at 43.0 yards per game, are 18th in rushing offense at 267.0 yards per game, tied for 19th in turnover margin at plus-1.0 per game and 23rd in kick returns at 25.8 yards per attempt.
Senior linebacker Dallas Bollema leads UNM with seven tackles per game to rank 23rd in the MW. His interception in the second quarter at Pittsburgh was his fourth in the last two seasons.
The Rebels are 2-2 on the season, having won two straight for the first time in five years. UNLV. Quarterback Caleb Herring has been a big catalyst in those wins. His rating of 167.56 would be leading the MW if he had enough pass attempts. Wide receiver Devante Davis is No. 7 in receiving yards per game at 77.2.
The UNLV defense is 10th in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 146.5 yards per game. It is third in the MW in total defense at 378.5 allowed per game.
The Starting Lineup
The University of New Mexico football team gets back on the football field after its first bye week since November of 2011 when it plays host to the UNLV Rebels on Branch Field at University Stadium on Saturday.
While UNM’s last two opponents — UTEP and Pittsburgh — had an extra week to prepare for UNM, this time, the Lobos have had an extra week to get ready for the Rebels. UNLV dispatched of Western Illinois 38-7 last weekend.
Coach Bob Davie’s bye-week record at Notre Dame was 8-1 during his five-year tenure.
More Bye Week History
In 2002, the Lobos also had a bye week before playing UNLV. UNM had come off a loss on national television to Texas Tech, and quarterback Casey Kelly suffered a broken arm. During the bye week, the Lobos’ backup quarterback was suspended one game for a violation of team rules.
That left junior Justin Millea, who had entered spring practice that year as a safety, atop the depth chart for the UNLV game at Sam Boyd Stadium. He was 2-of-8 passing for 20 yards and an interception, but he also ran 20 times for 148 yards and a touchdown. The game also featured the only 2-point defensive conversion in UNM history, and the Lobos defeated the Rebels 25-16.
UNLV got revenge a year later. UNM was coming off a win over nationally ranked Utah and had the Mountain West race lead, but the Rebels forced six Lobos turnovers and won 37-35 at University Stadium.
The Lobos defeated Texas State 35-14 last season on Homecoming to snap a three-game losing streak on Homecoming night for UNM. The Lobos had dropped six of their last seven homecoming contests, prior to last season.
UNM, however, is 2-0 on Homecoming games played on Sept. 28. It defeated New Mexico State 17-10 on Sept. 28, 1991 and defeated TCU 27-7 on Sept. 28, 1996.
Arizona and New Mexico State have been UNM’s Homecoming foe most often. The Wildcats have been UNM’s Homecoming opponent 14 times. The Aggies have been the Homecoming visitor 11 times. The Lobos played either Arizona or NMSU as their Homecoming foe each season from 1925-41.
Sharing the Wealth
For the first time since week 10 of the 2012 season, Kasey Carrier did not lead UNM running backs in rushing during the Lobos’ game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 14. Junior Crusoe Gongbay led the team with 95 rushing yards on 10 carries. Carrier had just rushed 41 times for a 2013 Football Bowl Subdivision-best 291 yards a week earlier against UTEP.
Jhurell Pressley was the last Lobos running back to have more yards than Carrier with his 56-yard performance vs. UNLV on Nov. 3, 2012.
Lobos Don’t Beat the Lobos — 2013 Version
UNM is off to a great start in keeping self-inflicted mistakes to a minimum. The Lobos currently are sixth in the nation in penalty yards per game, averaging just 26.0. They are committing an average of 2.7 penalties per game. Last season, UNM was 24th in the country in penalty yardage per game at 40.8. New Mexico also has just committed two turnovers in 2013, which is tied for fifth nationally. The Lobos are tied for 19th in turnover margin at plus-1.0 per game. They finished 17th nationally in ’12 in turnover margin at plus-0.85 per contest.
UNM is No. 8 in net punting with an average of 43.0 yards per attempt, No. 18 in rushing offense at 267.0 yards per game and No. 23 in kickoff returns with an average of 25.8 yards per attempt.
Coaches To Cure MD
The UNM and UNLV coaching staffs will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. Fans are encouraged to donate online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999.