A bye week for the New Mexico Lobos before the start of the Mountain West Conference schedule surely is a good thing.
The nine Saturdays that follow, without a break? Maybe not so good.
The Mountain West on Wednesday released its composite football schedule for 2016, filling in the blanks for league competition. The MWC’s 12 football-playing members already had released their nonconference schedules.
As announced earlier, New Mexico opens it schedule at home against South Dakota on Sept. 3, followed by road games against New Mexico State and Rutgers. The Lobos then have an open date the weekend of Sept. 24 before beginning Mountain West play at home against San Jose State on Oct. 1.
Boise State comes to Albuquerque on Oct. 8. The Lobos then travel to Dallas to play league rival Air Force in the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 15. It is technically an Air Force home game.
On Oct. 22, the Lobos take a break from conference play with a home game against Louisiana-Monroe. New Mexico hasn’t played a nonconference game that late in the regular season since 2001, when the annual game against NMSU was pushed back to November because of the events of Sept. 11.
The Lobos might as well get used to playing nonconference games later in the fall. In 2017, they’re scheduled to play on Nov. 11 at Texas A&M.
New Mexico travels to Hawaii to play the Rainbow Warriors on Oct. 29. It’s UNM’s first visit to the islands since 2012.
Nevada comes to University Stadium on Nov. 5. The Lobos then play back-to-back, cold-weather road games at Utah State (Nov. 12) and Colorado State (Nov. 19), followed by a home finale against Wyoming.
Then, if things go really, really well, there’s the Mountain West championship game between divisional winners Dec. 3.
The last time UNM had an earlier open date than the weekend of Sept. 24 was just two years ago, when the Lobos were idle on Sept. 13. But they had two bye weeks that season, with no game on the weekend of Oct. 25.
This year’s nine consecutive games without a week off is the Lobos’ longest such streak since 2012, when they played 13 games without a bye week.
Because of the road game at Hawaii, UNM had the option of scheduling a 13th game as it did in 2012. It chose not to do so.
For the second year in a row, the Lobos have no conference games scheduled on Thursday or Friday. They played a nonconference Friday game last season at Arizona State.
Only one Mountain West game, UNLV at Boise State on Friday, Nov. 18, thus far is scheduled for a day other than Saturday. The Mountain West’s national television partners (ESPN, CBS Sports Network), though, have the option of moving some games to Thursday or Friday for their purposes at a later time.
Kickoff times and TV homes for Mountain West games will be announced later.
The Lobos went 7-6 last fall, their first winning season since 2007, and earned a berth in the New Mexico Bowl. They lost that game to Arizona, 45-37, on Dec. 19.