ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Well, OK, a fourth-place pick in a six-team division isn’t a ringing vote of confidence.
Still, USA Today’s prediction for the New Mexico Lobos this football season (fourth place in the Mountain West Conference’s West Division, a 6-6 record, bowl eligibility) is far more optimistic than the resounding last place the Mountain West media assigned the Lobos last month.
Both picks, actually, make a certain amount of sense. It’s hard to argue against USA Today’s assertion that the Lobos are a program on the rise under coach Bob Davie. And, yes, no one in the conference is going to look forward to defending against UNM’s option-based, pistol-formation offense.
At the same time, who in the Mountain West did the Lobos beat last season? Only Hawaii, which is in the other division and which UNM doesn’t play this year. The Lobos were within a touchdown of beating Boise State, Air Force, Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado State last season, and had Fresno State on the run until quarterbacks B.R. Holbrook and Cole Gautsche went down. But you don’t play the game to come close, and the Mountain West media remain generally unconvinced.
I can’t say that’s unfair.