The Lobos will miss the same three schools in 2014. In 2015 and ’16, they’ll not play Fresno State, San Diego State and UNLV.
With the addition of San Jose State and Utah State, and with the decisions of Boise State and San Diego State to stay in the Mountain West after previously announcing plans to leave for the Big East, the MWC has 12 teams for football; Hawaii is a football-only member.
The conference presidents voted to split into two six-team divisions, with a conference title game for the two division winners. Mountain Division teams will play each other — that’s five games — and play three cross-over games against West Division teams. It’s the same in reverse for the West Division.
New Mexico’s five fellow Mountain Division members are Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Utah State and Wyoming.
In 2013, the Lobos will play Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV and Utah State at home. They’ll visit Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State and Wyoming. In 2014, it’s the opposite.
In 2015, New Mexico will play at home against Air Force, Colorado State, Hawaii and Utah State. They’ll be on the road against Boise State, Nevada, San Jose State and Wyoming. In 2016, it’s the reverse.
If there’s a negative for UNM here, it might be that they won ‘t again play at Hawaii until 2016 — meaning they won’t get a 13th game, allowed by the NCAA for teams that travel to Honolulu, until then. The Lobos beat Hawaii at Aloha Stadium this past season and went 4-9 on the year.
Lobo fans might also be disappointed that UNM will play in San Diego only once between 2012-16 — that next season; the two teams did not meet in 2012. Also, New Mexico will play UNLV in Las Vegas only once, in 2014, during the next four seasons.
Such things seem a small price to pay for the stability the 12-team model offers, after the Mountain West stared down the possibility of losing Boise State and San Diego State.
Some Boise State fans expressed disappointment at being placed in the Mountain Division, apart from Nevada, Fresno State and San Diego State. They should be slightly appeased, in that the Broncos will play all of those schools in 2013-14 — though they’ll meet none of those in 2015-16.