Wyoming (2-7) at New Mexico (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Stadium (39,224) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: Comcast. Home Record: Wyoming 1-4, UNM 2-2. Away Record: Wyoming 1-3, UNM 2-4. Neutral Record: Wyoming 0-0, UNM 0-0. Conference Record: Wyoming 1-4, UNM 1-4. Series Record: Wyoming leads, 34-30.
GAME NOTES: The Wyoming Cowboys shoot for back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly a year this weekend as they match up against the New Mexico Lobos in Mountain West Conference action at University Stadium in Albuquerque.
Wyoming, which hasn't won consecutive decisions since November of last season, managed to snap a four-game slide last weekend with a 45-31 victory over Colorado State at home. The win was just the second in nine tries this season for the Cowboys, who are currently tied with both the Rams and Lobos for seventh place in the league standings at 1-4.
Not only were the 45 points the most for Wyoming this season, the effort also saw the team tally 21 points in a single quarter for the first time this season as well as put points on the board in all four periods for just the second time.
Meanwhile, the Lobos are in a similar position this week that Wyoming was last, attempting to snap a losing streak. Since winning two straight over the likes of Texas State and Hawaii, UNM has fallen in three consecutive outings and in all of those games, has given up at least 28 points. Last Saturday, the Lobos were dumped by UNLV on the road in a 35-7 final.
However, despite the recent drought, the Lobos have already won more games than they had in the previous three seasons combined (3-33), and they are still shooting for their first record of .500 or better since putting up a 9-4 mark in 2007.
Thanks to a 31-10 win last season at home in Laramie, Wyoming leads the all- time series with New Mexico by a 34-30 margin.
In the 104th edition of the annual Border War against Colorado State, the Cowboys came out on top for the fourth straight year thanks to Brett Smith who, on his way to being named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week, threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as he accounted for 235 yards through the air and another 27 on eight rushing attempts.
Not to be completely overshadowed by his quarterback, cornerback Blair Burns made quite a showing of his own as he recorded four solo tackles and returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown in the double-digit victory. Burns was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week.
For the most part this season, the Wyoming defense has been nothing to write home about with 34.8 ppg allowed (104th nationally), mainly because the group cannot get a strong enough push at the line of scrimmage. The squad has given up 203.8 ypg on the ground and accounts for just 1.22 sacks per game and 4.44 tackles for loss per outing which puts them near the bottom in all of those categories nationally.
In the case of Smith, not only can he move the offense with his arm, generating 255.9 ypg as he completes 61.3 percent of his attempts for 18 touchdowns, he's also tied for the most rushing TDs on the unit with four in the seven games in which he has appeared.
While Wyoming's run game is rather pedestrian at 136.7 ypg, the same cannot be said for New Mexico now that first-year head coach Bob Davie has instituted a run-first mentality. The team does more than just look to run first and foremost, the Lobos have actually taken that approach to a new level by running the ball almost five times more than attempting to pass.
Ranked fifth in the country with 303.1 ypg rushing, the Lobos are at the other end of the spectrum in passing with their mere 53.5 ypg easily ranking them last in the nation. Regardless of who has handled the snaps for New Mexico, whether it be B.R. Holbrook or Cole Gautsche, the latter being the starter now with Holbrook being injured, the goal is to turn and hand the ball off to someone like Kasey Carrier who can carve up a defense.
Carrier leads the team in rushing with 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns, just a fraction of the unit's 3,031 yards and 29 scores on the ground. The difference between last year and this year in the rushing attack is like night and day after the program recorded a mere 10 rushing touchdowns in all of 2011.
Even though UNM ran for more than 300 yards (307) for the seventh straight game in the loss to UNLV, the squad reached the end zone only once on a five- yard run by Carlos Wiggins. Carrier finished with only 52 rushing yards and Gautsche was just 3-of-6 passing for 43 yards and an interception.
Depending on how long the Lobos can pick up significant yards on the ground and maintain possession of the ball, keeping it away from Smith and the Pokes, UNM might have a fighting chance in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 27, Wyoming 24
11/07 10:38:47 ET