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New Mexico Bowl: A game years in the making for the Davie and the Lobos

Four years ago Bob Davie embarked on a journey to New Mexico Saturday marks a pivotal point in this journey.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Davie will tell you that there is no such thing as a moral victory but for him and the University of New Mexico football team but getting to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl does count as a moral victory, but that also is an actual victory with getting to seven wins.

The Lobos will be an underdog when they step on the field Saturday against Arizona, the underdog role is a familiar one to New Mexico as they were underdogs against Utah State, Boise State and Air Force all game which they won.

The Lobos who came into the season picked to finish near the bottom of the Mountain division have already exceeded expectations, so win or lose Davie and the Lobos who have embarked on a journey that started when he was selected to be the head coach of Lobos have accomplished something few though they could do, they have become winners they have built a foundation for years to come.

Davie who had coached at Norte Dame before becoming an analyst for ESPN came out of a nine year retirement to be the Lobos headman. He would take over a program that was broken, a team that had won just three games in three years. The Lobos had gone from a constant Bowl team to one of the worst teams in the country.

The signing of Davie gave the Lobos a big name coach but was he out of touch just because I he was in the booth it didn’t mean that he would be ready for the project he was about to take on. He would have to start from scratch with so many players leaving the program after the 2011 season it would take Davie a few years to have enough players on scholarship to have adequate redshirts, because of the NCAA 25-20 rule teams are restricted to the amount of players they can sign in a given year.

To combat the talent deficit he had at New Mexico Davie would implement his version of the pistol offense running a triple option. This move would be a successful one as the Lobos have been one of the nation’s top 10 rushing teams in Davies tenure.  During the 2012 season the Lobos would win four games which was twice the amount Davies predecessor Mike Locksley won in his two and a half seasons at New Mexico.

There was once again optimism in Albuquerque he had won with a team comprised mostly of Locksley recruits. During that season the Lobos were competitive they lost  five games by less than a touchdown a far cry from the previous three years in which the Lobos lost blow out after blow out.  For the teams effort Davie was given a two year extension which extended his stay in New Mexico until 2019.

The Lobos would win three games in 2013 and four games in 2014 which led many to believe that 2015 which was Davies fourth year would be a pivotal season for the coach and his team. It would be Davies first true senor class and most of Locksley’s players were now out of the program so many fans felt it was time to win, members of the media still felt that the team was still a few years away.

The season kicked off with a bang as the Lobos showcased there large arsenal of weapons as they trounced Mississippi Valley State 66-0. During the months of September and October the Lobos would go 4-4 losing winnable games against San Jose State and Nevada. Those  games were thought to be games that the team had to win if UNM wanted to have any chance of  making it to a bowl game.

The pressure was now on for the Lobos as the calendar turned to November which meant many people in Albuquerque would turn their attention to The Pit and Craig Neal’s boys. The deck was stacked against the Football team as they would be lucky to win one game against the murders row that was the top half of the Mountain Division. Utah State, Colorado State and Air Force would all make trips to University Stadium along with a trip to Albertson Stadium to face Boise State in Idaho.

They did the impossible wining three of the four games  while having held a lead late in the Colorado State game which would have allowed them to win the Division instead they settled for second place and a trip to the New Mexico Bowl.While the Bowl game is not big nationally its big for the team it will be a culmination of a journey that started four years ago.