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Redshirt junior safety Ryan Santos celebrates after stopping Air Force at University Stadium Nov. 29. UNM will play in the New Mexico Bowl for the first time since 2007. 

Redshirt junior safety Ryan Santos celebrates after stopping Air Force at University Stadium Nov. 29. UNM will play in the New Mexico Bowl for the first time since 2007. 

Football: Lobos to play in New Mexico Bowl

Head coach Bob Davie won’t be a spectator at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl this year.

After weeks of speculation, it was officially announced on Sunday that New Mexico will participate in the New Mexico Bowl for the first time since 2007. UNM will face Arizona of the PAC-12 conference at University Stadium on Dec. 19.

Davie said after the Lobos upset Boise State in Boise, Idaho he went and told Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs that he wanted to go to the New Mexico Bowl.

“My decision was made when we earned six wins,” Davie said on Saturday after practice, prior to the announcement. “I’ve watched this game enough as a fan. I think it’ll be great for our community and for Lobo football. I couldn’t be happier.”

Davie was on a recruiting trip when the announcement came and was not available to speak to the media.

UNM finished the regular season on a high note after beating Mountain Division champion Air Force 47-35. The Lobos (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West) won three of their final four games to clinch their first winning season in nearly a decade.

The bowl game will be the 12th in program history for UNM, but it will be its first in eight years.

“It’s a blessing to play in the postseason. I’m just proud of these guys and all the adversity that we went through,” quarterback Lamar Jordan said. “There were a lot of times during this season that we could’ve just got down on ourselves and continue to let it linger around.”

Even though it’s not an official home game, UNM has held steady on its home turf this season. The Lobos are 5-2 at University Stadium this year with their only losses coming against Tulsa and Colorado State.

“It feels great. We’re going to have the crowd on our side,” wide receiver Carlos Wiggins said Saturday. “It’s another advantage to take. It’s going to be great to have the fans out here watching the Lobos play.”

Arizona had a rough end to the regular season. The Wildcats have lost four of their past five games to finish 6-6 and ended up in fifth place in the Pac-12 South.

This will be the first matchup between UNM and Arizona since 2008, when the Lobos beat the Wildcats 36-28.

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“It doesn’t really matter but if I had a choice I would pick the Pac-12 because of their name and their brand,” Wiggins said. “It would be nice to knock off a Pac-12 team to get our name out there.”

The Lobos and Wildcats have two common opponents this season in Nevada and Arizona State. Arizona was able to knockoff the Wolf Pack but fell to the Sun Devils, while UNM lost to both teams.

This is the third appearance overall for UNM in the New Mexico Bowl. The Lobos lost the inaugural game in 2006 to San Jose State, but rebounded the next year to beat Nevada.

Arizona will be competing in its fourth straight bowl game and the New Mexico Bowl will be its 20th appearance overall. The Wildcats won the New Mexico Bowl in 2012 when they defeated Nevada 49-48.

Thomas Romero-Salas is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.

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