With spring football in the rearview mirror and the preseason still a few months away, I’m going to throw out some initial observations about Air Force’s 2008 opponents from time to time.
I’m going to go in no particular order and there won’t be a set schedule. I’ll just pass on some thoughts from talking to colleagues and reading stories from other media outlets.
I was a guest on The Mtn.’s Around The Mountain show this week, and one of the teams we discussed was New Mexico. So I’m starting with the Lobos.
2007 Record: 9-4
Off/Def Starters Back: 6/6
Last Year vs. AF: New Mexico 34, Air Force 31
This Year vs. AF: Oct. 23 (Thursday) at Air Force
Roster Report: The Lobos lost a pair of first-team All-Mountain West Conference receivers to graduation – Marcus Smith and Travis Brown. They combined to catch 167 passes for 2,156 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the Lobos, while inexperienced overall, have starters back at key positions. Junior-to-be Donavan Porterie returns at quarterback after passing for 3,006 yards and 15 touchdowns last year; Senior-to-be Rodney Ferguson, coming off back-to-back first-team all-league and 1,000-yard campaigns, returns as running back; And the Lobos have both starting corners back from their 2007 squad.
Fast Fact: New Mexico has won at least six games in each of the last seven seasons and gone to five bowl games in that stretch. But it hasn’t finished better than second in conference play during that time, and last season’s nine victories were its most in one season since Rocky Long took over as head coach before the 1998 campaign.
What Caught My Eye: The Lobos’ schedule. Yikes. New Mexico has arguably the toughest slate of any Mountain West Conference team this season, especially early.
The Lobos are the only team in the conference without a bye week (Air Force had that distinction last season) and the only team other than UNLV that will not play a Division I-AA squad.
(Note: in this blog, I heretofore am refusing to use the term “Football Championship Subdivision” – the new moniker for Division I-AA. Every time I write “Football Championship Subdivision” in the paper I have to write “Football Championship Subdivision – formerly Division I-AA,” because most people don’t know what the heck the “Football Championship Subdivision” is. So consider this my protest to this stupid name change. Back to the Lobos’ schedule.)
The Lobos open with conference heavyweight TCU on Aug. 30, then check out their September: Home games against Texas A&M and Arizona, followed by road games at Tulsa (which went 10-4 and beat BYU last season) and at in-state rival New Mexico State.
Greg Archuleta, the Albuquerque Journal’s excellent New Mexico football beat writer called the Lobos’ nonconference slate “one of the toughest” in Long’s 11 seasons.
Final Thought: New Mexico probably can extend its streak of seasons with at least six wins, but it will be tough, considering the schedule.
Jake's Way Early Line vs. AF: New Mexico -2.5.