Early predictions aren’t looking favorable for the New Mexico football team.

Every summer/spring, the Orlando Sentinel and USA Today count down every single Division One college football from No. 128 to No. 1.

The Sentinel, which had UNM ranked No. 88 last year, has the Lobos at No. 105.

USA Today put UNM at No. 108 last year. This year they have the Lobos at No. 110.

This year’s rankings are in sharp contrast with some key facts.

For the first time in Bob Davie’s three-year tenure, the Lobos will have a full complement of 85 scholarship players. UNM will also have 14 starters returning from last season’s 3-9 squad, which is six more than returned last year.

Davie has also taken steps to improve a defense that ranked near the bottom of most Division I defensive categories last season. There’s more size in the defensive line, more height in the secondary and more competition at all positions.

USA Today’s Paul Myberg wrote that defense remains the primary reason why the Lobos will once again struggle to reach a bowl game.

“For two years — and now three — Davie and DeBesse have been able to out-scheme a lack of horses with an unorthodox, often unstoppable offensive attack with roots in college football’s past,” Myers wrote. “On defense, however, UNM has been unable to locate a similar approach, leaving the Lobos lagging in comparison to this powerful offense. Better days are ahead, but I simply don’t see the personnel Davie and Cosgrove need to bring this defense up to speed.”

The Sentinel admits that the program is heading in the right direction under Davie.

“New Mexico is in much better shape than it was three years ago, but the Lobos still have work to do to clinch the first bowl bid of coach Bob Davie’s tenure,” Iliana Limon Romero wrote.

Bratton named to Rimington watch list

UNM center LaMar Bratton was named to the 2014 Rimington Award Spring Watch List, the Rimington Trophy Committee announced Monday.

Bratton has earned two All-Mountain West honorable mentions in his career. He has started in all of his 37 career games, the last two seasons at left guard, and 12 games at center his freshman season in 2011.

Bratton takes over center for the departed Dillon Farrell, who is in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers.

Thomas Romero-Salas is sports editor for the Daily Lobo. Contact him at sports@dailylobo.com or via Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.