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Lobo Pack: Preview of Wyoming game

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Late night MWC action

NCAA Football: New Mexico at San Jose State Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

What:

New Mexico Lobos vs. Wyoming Cowboys

When:

Saturday December 5th, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. MT

Where:

Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. New Mexico’s home stadium for 2020.

Coverage:

Lobo fans will be able to catch the game on CBS Sports Network on the TV side. They can also catch the game on the Lobo Sports Radio Network, the Lobo Sports App, or 96.3 FM and 770 AM KKOB in Albuquerque.

Series:

Wyoming holds a 38-34 edge in the series history. Wyoming has won the last three contests between the two schools, including a 23-10 win in last season’s matchup.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos football team will play host to the Wyoming Cowboys Saturday night out in Las Vegas, the Lobos home away from home for the 2020 season.

UNM enters the contest 0-5 on the season and have lost 14 consecutive games dating back to last season. Last week, the lobos dropped to Utah State by a final of 41-27 on Thanksgiving night.

Wyoming comes into the game at 2-2 on the season. Last week the Pokes took down UNLV by a final of 45-14. Interestingly enough, this will be the second straight week playing in Vegas for the Cowboys, as last week’s game was played at Allegiant Stadium, current home for UNLV.

What to expect from Wyoming:

The Cowboys love to pound the football on the ground, relying heavily on running back Xazavian Valladay to carry the load. The Pokes are averaging 238 yards per game on the ground this season. That is good enough for 13th in the country.

Valladay is the center piece on the Cowboys offense, but he is questionable for this week’s contest after injuring his leg in the win over UNLV last week.

If Valladay can give it a go the Lobos will try to slow down a back that has dominated defenses this season. On only six carries against UNLV, Valladay went for 94 yards and a touchdown. He has carried the ball 88 times this season and gone for 491 yards and four touchdowns. In last season’s meeting, Valladay went for 127 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries versus New Mexico.

As good as the Cowboys are at running the ball, their defense is just as good at stopping the run. Wyoming allows only 104.5 yards per game rushing so far this season. Which might get better today as New Mexico has struggled to run the football in 2020.

What to expect from New Mexico:

The issue with who will start at quarterback for New Mexico at quarterback will be on center stage entering this contest. Tevaka Tuioti has been in concussion protocol since leaving the Hawai’i game on November 7th.

Trae Hall took over after that, but he was sustained a rib injury in last week’s loss to Utah State.

Both Hall and Tuioti did not practice this week, so it will be Connor Genal getting his first start at quarterback. Genal went 5-for-10 for 61 yards and an interception in relief of Hall against Utah State.

Genal made some solid throws, but the interception cemented the loss in Logan, Utah last week. He will look for Andrew Erickson a ton. Do not be surprised, either, if the Lobos try to run the football more in this game tonight.

X-Factor for the Lobos:

The defensive line must get into the Cowboys backfield all night in order for UNM to have a shot in this game. If the Cowboys can get the running game going, whether it be with Valladay or Trey Smith, then they can also torch a secondary that has been decimated on a weekly basis by opposing teams.

Levi Williams doesn’t throw often, but if the Pokes can incorporate play action, he will have a huge day.

Prediction:

I was on the up and up for New Mexico the last two weeks, and each of the last two they laid an egg. I would like to consider maybe some reverse psychology by picking Wyoming today, but even then, I don’t think that will work. Wyoming can run the football with anyone in the backfield and should do the same in this one. Unless the Lobos can stop that running game, it will be a long day. Right now, I got Wyoming-34 Lobos-17.