Saturday: New Mexico at Wisconsin (AP No. 5, Coaches Poll No. 6)
Time: 10 a.m. MST
Location: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: KKOB-AM 770 AM, 94.5 FM
By Greg Archuleta
A brief list of rare sightings are as follows:
Bigfoot. UFOs. Bipartisanship in Congress. … A 2-0 start to the University of New Mexico football season.
The Lobos haven’t started off a season 2-0 since 2005 when Rocky Long’s squad defeated UNLV and New Mexico State at home and then went on the road to defeat Missouri to start a 3-0 campaign.
After its superior (Incarnate) wordplay in a 62-30 season-opening victory, UNM has the unenviable task of trying to go 2-0 this season against the No. 5 team in the nation.
The Wisconsin Badgers actually started the season ranked fourth, but Associated Press voters apparently weren’t as impressed with the Badgers’ 34-3 victory over Western Kentucky as they were with Ohio State’s 77-31 mauling of Oregon State, jumping the Buckeyes ahead of the Badgers.
That’s little consolation to New Mexico coach Bob Davie, who has to get his team to stay on an even keel while making the transition from preparing for the FCS Cardinals to one of the FBS heavyweights in Wisconsin.
During his weekly news conference Tuesday, Davie didn’t even talk about the outcome other than to say he was looking for individual improvement across the board.
“Going up there is a tremendous challenge to try to get better individually; that’s what it is,” Davie said. “Really, that’s what this whole process is. anyhow. If enough guys get better individually, then collectively, we’re going to be better.
“Collectively, we’re looking at this as a chance to show improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 as individuals.”
UNM, however, did display some other rare sightings for the program. It’s 361 passing yards marked the first time the program threw for more than 300 yards in a game since 2010 against Texas Tech.
Quarterback Tevaka Tuioti’s four touchdown passes were the most in 20 years — Graham Leigh did it during a 39-36, three-overtime win against Utah State.
And it had been 388 games since the Lobos last had 300 yards rushing and passing in the same game — they rushed for 318 yards and passed for 336 in a 58-49 loss at Utah in 1985.
Davie recognizes that the 680 yards his new spread-option offense plowed for against the Cardinals have no bearing on Saturday’s game in Wisconsin. And the defense, which gave up 391 of the 566 yards UIW amassed, has its hands full against one of the most talented offenses in the county.
“Offensively we’re pretty realistic about who we played last week,” Davie said. “Some of those plays, we went over the top of people and caught the ball — those plays probably aren’t going to be there. Defense, even though it was a poor statistical performance, there were some good things.
“The big picture isn’t as important as just one step at a time and individual improvement as we go.”
The Badgers surrendered just 305 yards of total offense to the Hilltoppers in UW’s win last weekend. They also allowed three sacks on quarterback Alex Hornibrook.
But they also have sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 1,977 yards last year as a freshman and warmed up in 2018 with a 145-yard effort and two touchdowns on 18 carries against WKU.
UNM enters Saturday’s game having lost 16 straight to ranked opponents. Its last win over a ranked team came in 2003 when it beat quarterback Alex Smith and 23rd-ranked Utah 47-35 in Salt Lake City.
The Lobos have played a team ranked in the Top 5 four previous times. They lost to No. 3 TCU 66-17 in 2010; lost to the No. 4 Horned Frogs 51-10 in 2009; lost to No. 4 Brigham Young 66-21 in 1975; and lost 51-0 to No. 1 Army in 1950.
So Davie certainly can be forgiven for not engaging in any hyperbole leading up to the game.
“I’m curious to see how we will respond,” he said. “Talk is cheap and nothing really matters. This is about preparation.”
INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Q’ Drennan suffered a dislocated hip on a 40-yard reception during the Lobos’ first pass play of the season against Incarnate Word on Saturday.
Davie said medical staff was able to put the hip back in place, and Drennan likely will not require surgery. The coach Drennan’s absence will be lengthy, but he could return this season.
Quarterback Coltin Gerhart will miss Saturday’s game with a sprained foot he suffered during his only series against UIW last week.
Safety Bijon Parker is doubtful with a groin injury.