Opposites might attract, but it was fatal attraction for the UNM football team and head coach Mike Locksley when the Lobos faced TCU on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs (12-0 overall, 8-0 in the MWC), at the other end of the spectrum record-wise, trounced the Lobos (1-11 overall, 1-7 in the MWC), 51-10, in Fort Worth, Texas, capturing the Mountain West Conference championship outright and getting a bid for a Bowl Championship Series game.
The Horned Frogs are a legitimate top five team, Locksley said.
“When you have the weapons that they have in all three phases of their team, they are very deserving of their ranking,” he said. “I hope that they’re able to reap the rewards of going through a season undefeated, beating some BCS teams and going undefeated through a tough conference, like the Mountain West.”
While TCU finished with its best record in 71 years, the Lobos finished the 2009 season with its worst finish since an 0-11 record in 1987.
TCU quarterback Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes, which matched a career-high. Two of Dalton’s scoring tosses came within a 12-second span in the second quarter to wide receiver Antoine Hicks.
Hicks’ touchdown receptions gave the Horned Frogs a 30-0 lead early in the quarter, and TCU never looked back.
In possibly his last game as a Lobo, UNM quarterback Donovan Porterie threw 43 passes and completed only 20 for 162 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Porterie, who applied to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, is awaiting the NCAA’s ruling, but Locksley said he doesn’t believe it will be approved.
Two of Porterie’s interceptions were returned for Horned Frog touchdowns in the fourth quarter, a run of 21 unanswered points by TCU in the final 15 minutes of play.
TCU’s swift dispatching of the Lobos is the Horned Frogs seventh straight win of 27 points or more. Unfortunately for the Lobos, it was the seventh loss of the season by at least 20 points.
Locksley said he and his coaching staff are looking toward the 2010 football season.
“The 2009 season is officially over,” Locksley said. “We are back to a zero-and-zero record, and anything we do now will be to improve our program and move forward. We will get the program into the direction it needs to go as far as winning conference championships.”
Locksley and the coaching staff will go back to looking at everything from start to finish over the course of the season, he said.
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“I had a vision and plan for this program,” Locksley said. “Though we won one, I have seen improvement toward the vision, but I would have loved more victories out of this year. But I have seen enough of this team’s improvement throughout the course of the season, even through some tough and adverse times, where they have continued to improve. If we can take the character of the 2009 team and bottle it up, there is a bright future for the Lobos in the near future.”
It’s still up in the air, but Locksley said he knows members of his coaching staff could potentially depart from UNM.
“That’s typically what happens this time of year in the coaching profession,” Locksley said. “But I don’t have any expectations, as of right now, that I am going to lose anybody.”