U-N-L-V (2-6) at New Mexico (0-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 12th, 10:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Stadium (39,224) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: The Mountain. Home Record: UNLV 2-2, UNM 0-5. Away Record: UNLV 0-4, UNM 0-4. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, UNM 0-0. Conference Record: UNLV 1-2, UNM 0-4. Series Record: Series is tied, 9-9.
GAME NOTES: The dismal season continues for the woeful New Mexico Lobos this weekend as the winless squad entertains the UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference play at University Stadium in Albuquerque.
New Mexico has been dreadful in 2011, outside of taking Sam Houston State to overtime before losing that meeting in late September. Last weekend, the Lobos were blown out by San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium, 35-7. Already having fired head coach Mike Locksley earlier in the campaign, the Lobos are showing almost no signs of life, particularly against the rest of the MWC. In the last four losses the team has been outscored by a combined score of 195-14.
Needless to say, with 12 consecutive defeats the Lobos are owners of the longest losing streak in the nation entering play this week. The last victory for the program came last season against Wyoming by a score of 34-31.
Meanwhile, the Rebels gave fifth-ranked Boise State a scare, at least for a portion of the first half last Saturday, before eventually suffering a 48-21 setback at home in the desert. The loss was the fourth in the last five games for a UNLV team that is tough to get a read on from one week to the next. The Rebels are now tied with Colorado State for fifth place in the MWC standings at 1-2.
Last year, New Mexico was blown off the field in Las Vegas, bowing to the hosts in a 45-10 final which means the all-time series is now tied at nine games apiece.
UNLV recorded a pair of touchdowns in the first half against a very stubborn BSU defense, but in the second half the Rebels managed just one more TD which doomed the squad. Quarterback Caleb Herring converted 12-of-17 passes for just 114 yards and a touchdown, while being sacked two times, and backup Sean Reilly connected on 2-of-7 attempts for another 23 yards and a TD as well, but it made little difference in the final outcome. Herring may be listed as the quarterback for the Rebels, but that might be in name only given that he is averaging just 105.5 ypg through the air and the team is ranked 116th in the nation in passing with just 130.6 ypg. The offense has sputtered in all six losses this season and if not for the combined 78 points in the wins over Hawaii and Colorado State the team would be much further down on the scoring chart which currently has them ranked 109th with a mere 19.1 ppg.
Slowing down the vaunted Boise State offense for much of the first half, the Rebels probably surprised even themselves, but halftime adjustments by the visitors prevented an upset. UNLV managed to knock out one of the most productive rushers in the nation, Doug Martin, but the hosts just weren't prepared for BSU's backups. The pass defense was exposed as Kellen Moore dialed up five TD passes, although John Lotulelei still put forth a huge effort for the Rebels with his game-high 13 tackles. According to the stats, the run defense might appear to be respectable for the Rebels through eight games, but in reality the team has had some serious issues this season, outside of holding Hawaii and Southern Utah to a combined 84 rushing yards in back-to-back games in September. The pass defense is a much different story, the team being exploited for almost 280 ypg, which has it ranked last in the MWC and 107th in the country right now.
Trying to find something positive to report from the Lobos on a weekly basis is beyond difficult. Take away the six-yard TD run by Crusoe Gongbay late in the first half against San Diego State last Saturday and again the offensive cupboard is bare. Gongbay finished with 68 yards on 15 carries, the team as a whole amassing a mere 74 yards on 29 attempts after B.R. Holbrook was sacked three times. The signal-caller completed 10-of-20 passes for a meager 88 yards and a pair of interceptions. Across the board the Lobos are an awful team, scoring a mere 10 combined points in the first quarter this season and just 113 points overall, which is 12 points less than opponents have recorded in the first quarter in 2011. If you're looking for a bright spot, Gongbay might be the only option with his 338 yards and five touchdowns on 78 rushing attempts. The passing attack has a total of just six TDs. compared to seven interceptions.
The Lobos may have convinced themselves they could actually compete with San Diego State early on, forcing the hosts into punts on the first two possessions, but after that New Mexico was just ground down and there was no way to stop the Aztecs unless SDSU chose to slow the pace itself. Carmen Messina, who continues to be one of the top tacklers in the nation this year and in the history of UNM football, responded with 14 solo stops and 15 tackles overall, making two behind the line of scrimmage and one on quarterback Ryan Lindley but it still wasn't enough. Messina is first in the conference and ninth in the nation with 10.7 tackles per game, but no matter how many hits he makes he alone cannot save the Lobos from more embarrassment. Giving up a staggering 507.9 ypg, UNM ranks 119th in the country in that department and permitting 45.6 ppg is easily the worst number in the FBS.
When the Rebels put their mind to it they can play capably on both sides of the ball, which should be just enough for the visitors to capture a win this weekend in Albuquerque.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 31, New Mexico 24
11/09 10:35:17 ET