New Mexico and Colorado State will square off for the final time at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on Saturday as the schools play for history, a potential bowl bid and the continued pursuit of a division title.
A release said the 262nd game in the history of the stadium, which opened in 1968, will be its last as the Rams expect to open their new facility next season.
Head coach Bob Davie said the game will mark another week against a team that has given New Mexico problems in the past, and provide an opportunity to show them they’ve improved.
Colorado State (5-5, 3-3 MW) has won six straight football games over New Mexico (7-3, 5-1 MW) and could earn bowl eligibility with a win.
But the Lobos are eyeing number six as well. A victory would be the team’s sixth in a row, something the program hasn’t done this millennium.
The last time the program won six consecutive games in a single season was in 1997, when the team won its first six games of the year. Most of the current players were toddlers back then — some weren’t even born yet.
Quarterback Austin Apodaca said he was three or four years old and probably getting signed up to play in a children’s soccer league. Over 19 years later, he was engineering a thrilling comeback win in Logan, Utah.
“Winning in general is big,” Apodaca said. “In years past, we wouldn’t find those ways to win.”
The quarterback is expected to be behind center to start the game, but Davie said he expects both he and fellow quarterback Lamar Jordan to play.
Apodaca said they have been focused on going 1-0 every week during the winning streak. He said if the team looks ahead, then they aren’t focusing on the task at hand, so the goal is to implement the game plan and be clean in its execution this week.
The Rams will likely try to get their wide receiver, Michael Gallup, involved in the early going. Davie said Colorado State has made a concerted effort to get the ball in his hands.
“Number four has become their feature receiver,” Davie said. “It was only a matter of time before he emerged.”
He said the team also has two really good tailbacks and, as a team, are playing as good as anyone in the conference.
Davie said the Lobos are past the point of sneaking up on opponents. He said expectations are different and the team has weathered the storm and shown they have put in the work to compete week in and week out.
“We took some shots in the gut early in the season,” he said. “Because we were able to rebound from those things...I just feel like our culture and our identity is pretty much set and etched in stone.”
Linebacker Donnie White said the defense has started to find its identity. Although the team benefited from some penalties and hard luck for its opponent last week, the defense made a goal line stand to set up the game-winning drive.
White said he is leaving everything out on the field since it is his final year. He said he feels the Lobos still haven’t played their best game yet, but with focus and preparation, the team will get the outcome it wants.
Colorado State enters the matchup coming off a 49-46 loss to Air Force, while New Mexico just eked out a 24-21 road win over Utah State.
Wyoming’s 69-66 triple overtime loss to UNLV puts the Cowboys in a three-way tie with New Mexico and Boise State.
The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football and men’s and women’s tennis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @robert_maler.