By Arnie Leshin
With one win in three starts, University of New Mexico’s coach Danny Gonzales is still thinking post-season for his football team.
The schedule is the schedule, there are good and bad teams, but what’s ahead for the Lobos are two back-to-back out of town trips starting with up at Amherst, Mass., Saturday against Massachusetts, which is 1-2, but home field is still home field, the Minutemen and their fans, and maybe some travelers from Santa Fe.
Next comes another hit the road, this time to Wyoming in Laramie, on Sunday afternoon. Who knows how many New Mexico supporters will be there versus in regard to the home supporters. The Cowboys are 2-1 and with a probable home test Saturday versus also 2-1 Appalachian State, so it no doubt sounds like a tougher opponent than UMASS.
But what follows is home sweet home, with visits from San Jose State and Hawaii before traveling to Reno to tackle Nevada, then back home against UNLV on Nov. 6. Then it winds down to away tilts at Boise State and Fresno State.
Could be an up and down road, but nothing dismal like last season’s dreadful 2-10 overall record that concluded with losing its final nine outings.
For Hawaii, the Lobos remain home in the mainland while New Mexico State, at 2-1, does make the long flight to Hawaii. As for the Aggies, they have now gotten past the Lobos two-straight years.
No matter, Coach Gonzales has hope for a program that hasn’t made a bowl game since 2016, and he wasn’t happy to fall again to its state rival, this time by 10 points at home.
“Our expectation is to be in a bowl game,” he said. “That’s the expectation of this program, to compete for championships in the Mountain West Conference.”
He also wasn’t very happy with the approximate 27,000 home fans at the NMSU contest, not nearly the 45,000 he was expecting.
“We had our fans,” said Gonzales, “but just not enough between the two schools. But now we hit the road back-to-back, and if we are hopeful of making it to a bowl, we need to play well there stating with Saturday’s game at UMASS.”
That game can be viewed on ESPN+ and listened to on radio station KKOB-FM 96.3, with the kickoff scheduled for 1:30.