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New Mexico Lobos

College Football

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New Mexico had an interesting 2016 season, from losing to NMSU and Rutgers early, to managing a 6-2 record in conference play behind a rushing attack that led the nation with 350 yards per game. The Lobos return enough talent on the offensive end to be good, but maybe not at the same levels.

Quarterback Lamar Jordan (681 passing yards, 739 rushing yards) should have the position to himself after splitting with Austin Apodaca last year. Whether that’s good or not remains to be seen, although Jordan was the better runner. Tyron Owens (1,097 yards, 7 TDs) and Richard McQuarley (656 yards, 18 TDs) also return in the backfield so the Lobos won’t have a lack of talent to work with. Receiver isn’t a huge issue on a run-heavy offense, but Patrick Reed and Matt Quarells will be the top guys. The biggest thing will be what the line can do with three starters departed. Center Blaise Fountain and guard Aaron Jenkins are two of the best in the MWC, but there is some inexperience around them with a couple sophomores expected to start in the fall.

But the reason New Mexico probably won’t surpass last year’s nine wins is that the defense could take a step back with only two starters returning from a mediocre group. Seniors Garrett Hughes (end) and Kimmie Carson (linebacker) have big roles to fill and it’ll be tough even with a lot of seniors coming into starting spots. A lot of those seniors can be seen in the secondary with three of them expected to start, but again, none of them have been full-time starters. The Lobos improved last season to allow 31.5 points per game, but with a difficult schedule and new faces, that’ll be tough to match.

While their first couple should be wins, it wouldn’t be surprising if UNM lost five or six road games this year. A trip to Boise State comes on a short week in mid-September while they have to travel to Tulsa and Texas A&M in non-conference play. In addition to Boise, the Lobos travel to Wyoming and SDSU in the MWC, which is as unlucky as it gets. In fact, they may have to win all of their home games for bowl eligibility and the meetings with Air Force and Colorado State won’t be easy.

The Lobos had a favorable schedule last season and that led to nine wins. But with a lesser defense and new offensive line to go with a tougher schedule, New Mexico may be fighting for six wins and bowl eligibility for most of the season. Still, the Lobos have the same odds as Air Force (+2500 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference, which places them in the fourth or fifth spot in the loaded Mountain division.


2017 New Mexico Lobos Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Abilene Christian
Sept. 9 vs. New Mexico State

Sept. 14 at Boise State
Sept. 23 at Tulsa

Sept. 30 vs. Air Force
Oct. 14 at Fresno State
Oct. 20 vs. Colorado State

Oct. 28 at Wyoming
Nov. 4 vs. Utah State
Nov. 11 at Texas A&M
Nov. 17 vs. UNLV
Nov. 24 at San Diego State

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