Last weekend, Lobo football defeated Texas State for their third victory of the year, matching the total wins of their last three seasons combined. When Bob Davie took over the cherry and silver head coaching duties, not even the most jaded Lobo fan could have imagined such a convincing change of course.
Infamous former head coach Mike Locksley evoked some ridicule with an early statement that the Lobos were going to need “... a third digit for the scoreboard ...” because they were going to be piling on the points under his leadership. So far this season, the Lobos are still nowhere near that level of ambitious boasting, but they are averaging more than 28 points a game, which far surpasses previous records. Consider that in 2011, the Lobos scored a meager 17 touchdowns over the entire season (and only 21 in each of the two before that).
Unlike the Lobos' first victory this season, their last two have come over respectable, even if not powerhouse, Division I schools. The win two weeks ago against instra-state rivalry NMSU was extremely important to most sports-loving New Mexicans. But the near-win last week against burly Boise State seemed to say even more. With these games adding to the Lobos' self-esteem and win total, things seem to be primed for a turnaround.
As exciting as the early season has been, don't declare the future a bed of roses just yet. Despite a Lobo triumph, the game against the Bobcats wasn't pretty. New Mexico managed only one completed pass in the entire game. Though rushing yards were ample, making up for the lack of a passing game, that won't be enough to assure wins in the future. The Lobos have now rushed for more than 400 yards in four separate games, but they'll need to balance out their attack in order to see victories over more quality opponents.
And the more quality opponents are on their way. All of the games from this point on are conference matches, and the Lobos currently sit at 7th in the Mountain West. Staring up at our opponents is not necessarily the way we want to start conference play but, fortunately, next week the Lobos face Hawaii (one of the three teams that hasn't won a game in our conference thus far).
If the winning ways can keep up, even just for next week, the Lobos can lay claim to something they haven't had in more than four years: a winning record halfway through the season.
The No. 4 University of New Mexico Lobos looked a bit sloppy against the Houston Baptist University Huskies on Sunday, allowing a goal in the 16th minute. However, they managed to put two in the back of the net to come out on top in Houston.
The Lobos continue their march forward in the wake of last year's undefeated season—a remarkable season that, due to the odd rules of soccer, concluded in the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a match that sent the Lobos home, but did not count as a loss.
The Huskies have lost five games this season, but the Lobos have taken only a single loss. Their tenacity after a 13-hour weather delay and a site change for the game shows how focused this team is on improving last year's considerable accomplishments.
This game was the conference opener for the The Lobos and who now face nine consecutive matches with members of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation all vying for the NCAA Tournament automatic bid. UNM's last conference game will be another against Houston Baptist on Saturday, November 3. In between, of course, there will be plenty of tough matches, though none against the old giants of the MPSF, Sacramento State and Colorado. The Lobos should still brace themselves October 21 for a home battle against CSU Bakersfield, another Mountain Pacific team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year.
In a year full of individual accolades that continue to pile up for the Lobos, the most promising praise is the national ranking and the knowledge that, after such repeated success, this team deserves to be considered among the national title contenders.
This weekend, the Lobos will continue their assault on two in-conference visitors: Air Force on Friday and Denver on Sunday. Both matches should showcase the Lobos' talents and serve as excellent opportunities for fans to jump on the wagon and get behind a local team that could make waves come championship time.
Do I look better in this cherry blazer than Steve Alford?
When the University of New Mexico defeated the Southern Jaguars 66-21 their opening weekend, it was the fresh start the football program desperately needed. For the first time in three years every part of the team worked in sync, showing some potential for Lobo Football to be successful again. The only only damper on the victory was the fact they beat a poor team from a weak conference. Southern offered little opposition and little opportunity for UNM to show their stuff beyond a spectacular halftime show. So when the Lobos squared off against the No.15 Texas Longhorns, fans and critics were given an accurate depiction of New Mexico's football program.
Lobo fans watching the first half had reason to feel okay as their defense kept Texas to a less-than-terrifying 17-0 lead at halftime. But after UNM quarterback B.R. Holbrook suffered a concussion in the second quarter, the optimism quickly turned into panic. The Longhorns proved why they are a true college football powerhouse by forcing four Lobo turnovers and a crushing final score of 45-0. Even though UNM suffered another beat-down at the hands of a top college football team, the Lobos had a solid ground attack and were even able to rush for 206 yards. Local sports talk radio were surely filled with calls angry and depressed fans already claiming this season was a failure. But sensible fans can hardly expect head coach Bob Davie to work a miracle in one season. Former coach Mike Locksley caused huge damage to an already fragile program. It's going take years to transform UNM into a threatening college football program. As for this season, if Davie can lead his team to a decent performance at Texas Tech before the big grudge match against New Mexico State, the Lobos should feel confident heading into Mountain West Conference play.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Come on man, it’s my turn to hold the ball.
NFL Opening Weekend
Just two years ago, The San Francisco 49ers looked like the shell of a franchise that won five Super Bowls. But ever since second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh took over, honor and respect have been restored to the Bay Area. Last year, the 49ers proved to be a dark horse when came out of nowhere to go 13-2, win their division and play in the NFC Championship game. With the target off their backs, the 'Niners looked towards a tough season opener against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this last weekend. Meanwhile, the Packers were looking to erase the memory of losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants. If the 49ers could defeat Green Bay on the road, it would seal their place as one of the elite teams of the league.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith exercised his new offensive weapons MarioManningham and Randy Moss while picking apart the Packer defense. Along with Frank Gore's power-running game, he led the 49ers into a 16-7 lead at halftime. Aaron Rodgers was able to move the ball for Green Bay but failed to make the game-changing play that would have captured the lead. The Packers cut the Niners' 16-point lead to just 8 in the fourth quarter. But Harbaugh's signature defense held steady and managed to avoid a last-second Green Bay comeback. San Francisco’s 30-22 victory should give them the momentum they need moving forward into the season and will potentially set them up for a repeat of last year's success and beyond.
There's no doubt the University of New Mexico basketball team has had great success throughout its history. From conference championships to 30-win seasons, the Lobos have an impressive résumé. But when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, true prosperity has always been out of reach for New Mexico.
It looked like this might finally be the year that curse would be broken. In Thursday's Second Round matchup, the Lobos held off a tough Long Beach State 75-68 to face Louisville on Saturday night.
The first half featured a defensive battle with New Mexico only behind 33-31 and carrying momentum headed into halftime. Despite Drew Gordon injuring his knee early in the game, he returned and had a standout performance with 21 points and 14 rebounds. With Gordon's leadership, New Mexico seemed primed for their its first-ever appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, but when the second half started, the pressure finally got to the young and inexperienced Lobo backcourt. The Louisville Cardinals capitalized on Lobo turnovers and bad offensive execution to gain a 15-point lead. When the Lobos actually ran plays on the offensive end, they were successful and eventually closed the gap to 53-51 with 1:48 remaining. Louisville's star player Peyton Siva was contained by the Lobo defense but he proved to be the difference by hitting a pass to Gorgui Dieng to extended the Cardinal’s lead by four. Siva also nailed some free throws to give Louisville a conformable 59-53 lead headed into the closing seconds. Gordon did give Lobo fans some hope by hitting a three with 2.9 seconds left, but it was too late as Louisville advanced with the 59-56 victory.
While the Lobos have a lot to be proud of this season, head coach Steve Alford and his team have to feel they let a great opportunity slip away. Alford has lots of young talent to find a true leader to guide the Lobos out of the round of 32 and into competing with top basketball powerhouses. This loss with hurt in the short term, but Lobo fans should feel excitement for a promising future.
March Madness Sweet Sixteen Preview
As usual, this year's tournament has produced many upsets and busted brackets. With No. 2 seeds Duke and Missouri taking an early plane ride home, there are some refreshing matchups in the Sweet Sixteen.
Kentucky vs. Indiana has the potential to be one of the most memorable games in this year’s tournament. Marquis Teague hasn't let his inexperience affect his performance in the dance so far by having 24 points and 7 assists against Iowa State. Teague's lead the Wildcats to an impressive 87-71 victory and now will face a hot Hoosiers squad. Indiana had an easy time with New Mexico State but faced the dreaded VCU Rams in the second round. The Hoosiers’ Cody Zeller had 16 points and 13 rebounds to help his team survive VCU’s attempt at another run to the Final Four. Many experts and fans probably have Kentucky advancing, but Indiana has been the more battle-tested squad. If Kentucky doesn't bring the intensity, Indiana can spring the upset.
Despite winning back-to-back national titles, Florida doesn't get much national creditability compared to traditional basketball powers. The Gators haven't had the best season and their seven seed proves it, but they have improved their play and even took Kentucky to the limit in the SEC tournament. They handled their first two tournament games with ease but now will face their toughest test against Marquette.
The Golden Eagles have bounced back from their disappointing loss to Louisville with two wins over BYU and the Cinderella story of the regular season, Murray State. Now Marquette must battle a Florida team with a successful tournament track record.
UNM coach Steve Alford cuts down the net after the Lobos win the MWC tournament.
After this weekend, it’s understandable why the Lobos are on cloud nine. They beat their conference archrivals UNLV and San Diego State en route to a Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship. UNM was also awarded a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament.
And after winning a share of the regular season title, the Lobos must feel they've accomplished most of their goals they set in the preseason. But if they want to achieve the ultimate goal of advancing to the Sweet 16, they must battle an enemy that almost ruined their season: complacency.
The team was full of swagger and confidence after they beat San Diego State and UNLV in the regular season and were ranked in the Top 25. But then they let their guard down and lost two consecutive road games. Since that time, the Lobos are on a five-game winning streak and seem to have a renewed focus on defense.
Long Beach State has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation and will face the Lobos in the second round in Portland, Ore. If they advance, a potential match up against the Big East champion, Louisville, awaits.
March Madness apps
For most people, it’s almost impossible to sit on the couch and watch the entire tournament. However, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the action. Here are a few mobile applications that will ensure you never miss any possession or buzzer beater:
The NCAA has their official March Madness Live mobile app for iOS and Android that should satisfy any basketball junkie. Fans will be able to fill out a bracket, get live updates on their favorite teams and even watch every game for a one-time fee of $3.99. So far usability has been pretty seamless, so hopefully it delivers at game time.
ESPN also has its Bracket Bound mobile app which offers in-depth opinions and analysis on the tournament. It’s available for for iOS and Android and offers up-to-date Twitter feeds of ESPN personalities, video analysis and the ability to follow your team’s progress in the big dance. The only negative is the app still lists the projected field of the tournament and hides the real bracket in the top corner of the application. Despite the drawback, the app is free and offers users the ability to win $100,000 for the winner of the Tournament Challenge.
With these two apps, there's zero excuse why you shouldn't be the smartest fan in the room.
Fans of Lobo basketball have experienced the full gambit of emotions this season; from the overconfidence of destroying inferior non-conference opponents to feeling the despair and fear from two early losses to the UNLV Rebels and San Diego State Aztecs. The end result seemed very much in question but now that New Mexico has avenged both defeats convincingly, the Lobos should be in good shape to try on their dancing shoes come March. This past Wednesday, New Mexico put themselves in position to take firm control of the Mountain West Conference by upsetting No. 15 San Diego 77-67. With the victory, UNM had a chance to prove through a nationally televised game why they belong in the NCAA tournament. UNM only had a single-point lead at half time, but then turned to Lobo senior Drew Gordon to dominate and bully the Rebels in the paint. Along with Gordon's 27 points and 20 rebounds, a suffocating defense allowed the Lobos to outplay and outclass UNLV to a 65-45 victory. For doubters and nonbelievers, perhaps these two wins over nationally ranked opponents will change their minds. While it was a great week for New Mexico, the job is not over as they must finish the season out strong to win the conference. If Gordon’s production remains at this level, look for the Lobos to be a massive favorite in the conference tournament.
Lin went off for 28 points and 14 dimes
Two weeks ago Jeremy Lin was an afterthought in many basketball circles and was about to be cut by the New York Knicks. But with Baron Davis unavailable and Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony hurt, the Knicks were looking deep into the abyss. Fortunately for New York, Lin wasn't just a spark off the bench, he was the missing piece of the puzzle they've been searching for, and the team is playing it’s best ball in years. Along with his scoring, Lin has finally provided leadership and direction to the Knicks offense. His latest test was against the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and he passed mostly with flying colors. Despite another game with 7 turnovers, Lin continued his hot shooting with 28 points and added a career-high 14 assists. New Knicks J.R. Smith and Steve Novak teamed up for 29 bench points to defeat Dallas 104-97. New York may have tons of flaws, but with Anthony returning from injury, it might just have the most dangerous offense in the Eastern Conference.
After suffering difficult losses to league leaders San Diego State and UNLV, New Mexico needed a confidence boost to regain their momentum in the Mountain West Conference. A 85-52 beatdown of Colorado State on Wednesday confirmed the Lobos are still a force to be reckoned with. On Saturday afternoon, UNM continued to beat up on teams they were favored against by cruising to a 71-54 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs. Tony Snell's team leading 18 points and Kendall Williams’ 14 points contributed to a solid 48.3 field goal percentage. The Lobos also receive some good news in the form of Colorado State pulling the 17-point upset over No.12 San Diego State. Head coach Steve Alford has to be happy his team's stretch of 2-2 has put UNM only a game back from the league lead. If New Mexico can split the season series against Aztecs and Rebels, the league championship is within reach.
UFC on Fox 2
With no college football and average basketball teams on television, the Ultimate Fighting Championship had a chance to gain the eye of the causal sports fan. Hardcore mixed martial fans may have overacted in describing the bouts as terrible, but new viewers of the sport may need another couple of shows before they get hooked.
Phil Davis thought he was ready for the big-time but got humbled for five rounds by Rashad Evans. While Davis showed improved standup, he was unable to cause any significant damage—allowing Evans to score constant takedowns. Round after round Evans passed Davis’ guard and gain dominate positions to land hard shots. Even though Evans was aggressive, the fight lacked highlight reel moments or constant back and forth action. The judges reflected Evans’ dominance by scoring all the rounds (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) in a unanimous decision. While some may have changed the channel during the main event, Evans earned a title shot and opportunity to fight rival Jon Jones. Once April comes around, the hype machine will guarantee media buzz and a good PPV buy rate for the UFC.
Once Mark Muñoz went down to injury, Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping garnered all the attention from media and fans. Some thought the fight was slow and boring, but instead it should be remembered for as an exciting bout. Sonnen tried to bully Bisping with takedowns and ground and pound, but Bisping stood up and landed hard shots. Rounds one and two were close but Sonnen gained some extra energy in the final round and dominated the action. Opinions differed on Twitter but leaned toward Bisping getting the decision. But the judges saw Sonnen's takdowns being the difference and scored the fight (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). His pro wrestling promo after the fight should add some additional interest in a rematch against Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Let’s hope Silva finally agrees to the bout, because it could be the most watched title fight in UFC history.
In the opening bout, Chris Weidman ground out a spilt decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Demian Maia. Both men looked gassed throughout the bout but Weidman had a decent excuse, taking the fight under 11 days notice. Maia knew about the fight months in advance and put on an awful performance. Weidman's victory establishes him as a top-10 Middleweight while Maia goes to 1-2 and may be on the verge of being cut.
Before the season started, fans and critics questioned the potential of this year's Lobos. Head coach Steve Alford imposed multiple non-conference tournaments into the schedule to test his team’s mental toughness. Based on its 14-2 record, it seems this team has answered the challenge. The Lobos concluded non-conference play last Saturday at home against North Dakota. Despite having starting freshman point guard Hugh Greenwood recovering from an ankle sprain, the team didn't miss a beat, with six Lobos scoring in double figures. UNM only had a 10-point lead at half time, but turned up the pressure and blew out North Dakota 85-57. Now riding a 12-game winning streak, the Lobos have an extended break before facing the Wyoming Cowboys, Jan. 14 at Laramie. Alford has his team performing extremely well, but there's no denying some of its opponents have been subpar. Only time will tell if this could come back and haunt New Mexico when facing the top Mountain West Conference teams.
Chris Schnedier/AP photo
Tebow celebrates after an OT victory over the Steelers
The New York Giants may be experiencing deja vu during their attempt at another Super Bowl run. An underrated Eli Manning, an average regular season, great unknown wide receivers and a furious pass rush are creating a lethal combination that could lead the Giants to the promised land. But first they had to take care of the Atlanta Falcons. The Giants defense tormented Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, enabling Giants QB Eli Manning to have good field position and throw for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. New York only allowed a safety and dominated the Falcons, 24-2. Now the Giants must face the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers for a spot in the NFC Championship. The Packers will be the favorite, but to count out Manning and the Giants would be a mistake.
For those hoping the hype surrounding Tim Tebow would eventually disappear, they’ll have to wait at least another week. Besides Denver Broncos fans, anyone who says they picked the Donkeys to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers is probably lying. The Steelers were fighting injuries to key defensive stars and Ben Roethlisberger was hampered by a leg injury. But going into the game Denver was given little chance to pull the upset, considering they lost three in a row prior to Sunday. The unsung Broncos defense stopped the Steelers in the fourth quarter to force the first new playoff overtime. That set the stage for another Tebow miracle. It only took a coin flip and one play and Tebow delivered another miraculous victory. His 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas not only gave the Broncos the 29-23 win but also should guaranteed Tebow's job for next season. His stats aren’t always impressive, but there's no doubt when it's crunchtime, he delivers. Tebow has to prove he can put a full game together before he can be worthy of all the media attention. Keep in mind this is Tebow’s first season as a starter. If he can improve, it wouldn't be surprising if he rises to be an elite quarterback in the NFL.
Brock Lesnar made his long-awaited return to the octagon when he faced top Heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem. UFC President Dana White was certainly happy to see Lesnar return as he's the biggest pay-per-view draw in mixed martial arts. Despite Lesnar's bout with diverticulitis, many critics picked him to win by overwhelming Overeem with his wrestling ability. Shockingly, when Overeem aimed to the body with knees and kicks, that ability disappeared. Eventually, Lesnar crumbled to the ground and allowed the referee to rescue him from the Overeem beatdown. In the post fight interview, Lesnar announced his retirement under pressure from his wife and kids. Despite only having eight professional fights, Lesnar accomplished a lot in his brief tenure in the sport. While professional wrestling fans will wish for Lesnar's return to the WWE, Overeem can now become a major star with American MMA fans with a victory over UFC Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos.
Also in MMA, Jackson's fighter Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone earned his co-main-event spot against Nate Diaz by going 4-0 in 2011. Both men engaged in a war of words through interviews and press conferences before the bout. Then, when the fight started, Diaz’ trash talk seemed to take Cerrone out of his comfort zone. Diaz’ signature boxing frustrated Cerrone and gave Diaz a massive advantage headed into the later rounds. “Cowboy” mounted a decent comeback in Round 2 with huge leg kicks, but Diaz countered with multiple combinations to the head. In Round 3 Diaz continued his striking dominance en route to a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 unanimous decision. Diaz makes a very convincing case for a title shot but most likely will have another fight against a wrestler in order to become No. 1 contender. As for Cerrone, he has six victories out of his last seven fights and is still a major player in the Lightweight division. If he gets his wish to fight on the UFC Japan card, a victory could put him back in the title mix.
After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Santa Clara, the Lobos have been on a roll, winning nine straight before their New Year’s Eve battle with St. Louis. More than 15,000 witnessed UNM hold off the Billikens for the 64-60 victory. The Billikens kept within reach, but Drew Gordon’s 18 points and 9 rebounds carried the Lobos for their 10th straight win. While UNM may have been a little rocky to start the season, it has huge momentum headed into conference play. The Lobos have a good combination of athleticism, defense and confidence that may lead them to a Mountain West Conference title.
Eli’s in the playoffs; Tony’s not.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants had challenging seasons in 2011. But each team had had one last opportunity to erase the failures of the past and earn an NFC East title and a ticket to the playoffs with a win last night. Many would think with everything on the line during Sunday Night Football, this game would be competitive. Instead the Giants embarrassed the Cowboys and moved into an early 21-0 lead in the first half. The injured Tony Romo engineered a fourth quarter comeback with two touchdowns to close within seven points. But the underrated Eli Manning made the Dallas defense pay and threw a four-yard touchdown to Hakeem Nicks to seal the 34-13 victory and win the division. The Giants earned a wild card home game and will face the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday. Meanwhile, Dallas will search for answers to the many flaws they showed this season. Expect Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones to evaluate everyone’s job, from star players to the coaching staff.