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Predicting the Season Game 5: The UTEP Miners at the New Mexico Lobos

Game 5: UTEP Miners at New Mexico Lobos (Saturday, October 2, 2010)

I'm not saying New Mexico was the worst team in the nation last year but the Lobos were definitely in the discussion. In 2009, UNM finished the season 1-11 with their lone victory coming against Colorado State (who went 0-8 in the MWC). On the field, that Lobos were ranked 113th in scoring offense 113th in scoring defense, 103rd in total offense, and 100th in total defense. If that doesn't sum it up, I really don't know what will.

If you recall, last year was the first in Mike Locksley's tenure at UNM. He was hired to replace Rocky Long after a 4-8 season in 2008. Coach Long led New Mexico to 5 bowl games and his program was never known for off the field headlines. Locksley, at least in his first year, was literally the exact opposite of Long. Paul Myerberg of Pre Snap Read, summed up the off the field shenanigans the best.

Take note: three things you don’t want to happen in your foray as a head coach on college football’s top level. One, stand accused of sexual harassment and ageism in your treatment of an assistant in your football offices, even if those charges are later dropped; two, physically assault one of your assistant coaches — and get caught; and three, be forced to accept a one-game in-season suspension from a university that must, less than a year after signing you to a six-year contract, regret dropping the sure thing — Long — for the wrong thing.

Things aren't going to get any easier for the Lobos, at least not in the early part of the 2010 season. UNM opens up at Oregon, before coming home to take on Texas Tech and Utah, and then have a road trip to UNLV. The Lobos should be 0-4 when the Miners come to town and three of those games shouldn't be close.

The Lobos lost their best offensive player, center Eric Cook (now with the Washington Redskins) as well as two other starting offensive linemen. The line was ranked 115th in the nation in sacks allowed, meaning the Lobos gave up about 3.5 sacks a game. At quarterback, senior starter Donovan Porterie is gone. B.R. Holbrook should be the starter. Holbrook played a bit in '09, completing 19 of 34 passes for 170 yards. He had 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Third stringer, Tate Smith, as we know, left UNM to walk on at UTEP. At running back, sophomore Demond Dennis returns. He led UNM last year with 427 yards on 78 carries (a healthy 5.5 ypc average).

Hopefully, if UTEP takes care of business at home against Memphis and NMSU, the Miners should be no worse than 3-1 going into the game. The early season games against NMSU and UNM are must wins if UTEP is going to make a bowl game. The New Mexico schools should both be among the 10-15 worst teams in the nation next year. With UTEP, as we all know, no win is ever guaranteed, but I don't see how UNM gets their house in order before October 2, 2010.

So, who ya' got?