LAS VEGAS -- Wait, this isn't Albuquerque?

No one knows that better than the University of New Mexico football team. The Lobos have called Las Vegas home since late October because of virus restrictions in the Land of Enchantment.

Yes, New Mexico is 0-5. They also own the second longest losing streak in the nation at 14 games. That skid is at 20 in Mountain West play. Tonight, Connor Genal will make his first career start under center. He is a redshirt freshman who walked on to the UNM football team a year ago.

Isaiah Chavez will serve as the back-up quarterback. He's a walk-on, too. Only he got to the Albuquerque campus last summer.

So, you could say things aren't ideal for first-year head coach and UNM alum Danny Gonzales.

Despite all the negative, here's something Lobos fans can and should take some serious pride in -- the team is doing everything it can to salvage a season that looked all but lost when the state of New Mexico all but shut its borders in the fall.

"New Mexico has good players," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "And their play is better than what their record shows. That's not coach speak."

It's not. They do.

But even Bohl dished out praise to UNM for doing what it takes to play football in a fall filled with uncertainty.

"We applaud them and their willingness to keep on playing," Bohl said. "They are going ahead, fielding a football team and accruing some expenses. Kudos to the administration, staff and players." 

Restoring the pride

When I think of the Lobos, a few things come to mind:

  • Brian Urlacher
  • Rocky Long
  • A rabid fanbase
  • The Pit

Before he was a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Chicago Bears, Urlacher was the "Lobo Back" in Albuquerque. That name rolled off the tongue much better than safety-linebacker-wide receiver-tight end- kick returner.

The easier question is, what position didn't Urlacher play for Long's Lobos?

In November of 1999, Urlacher snagged his sixth touchdown pass of the season against the Cowboys in Laramie. Wyoming won the game 42-28, but many Pokes' fans will tell you that afternoon they witnessed greatness.

Wyoming's secondary was loaded with names like Al Rich, Matt Lehning, Robbie Duncan and Trent Gamble. It didn't matter that sunny day. New Mexico's 6-foot, 4-inch, 230-pound Mr. Everything was all over the field making plays.

Urlacher also embodied what Long was all about. Tough-nosed and willing to do whatever it takes to win. Long, who spent the previous nine seasons as the head coach at San Diego State, is back on the UNM sideline as the defensive coordinator.

The New Mexico alum looks much better in cherry red anyway.

Long is right where he belongs. And it shouldn't take much time for the Lobos to once again have those Urlacher-type players on that side of the ball in Albuquerque.

I want to give an "atta boy" to the UNM team, too. The fact they are playing a football season right now is nothing short of a miracle. Not many things have gone to plan for programs around the nation this fall, but point to another team that has set up shop in a different state.

Admittedly, as a lifelong Wyoming fan, I never had much love for any other team or fanbase in the conference, whether it was the WAC or the MWC.

You wouldn't catch me breaking bread with a BYU or Utah fan. Aside from my one and only Colorado State buddy, Kevin Keefe, I'm surely not sharing a terrible craft beer with an orange on the rim with anyone in Fort Collins. Or at all. Same goes for Air Force, Boise State and Utah State.

Zero desire.

New Mexico has always been different.

I feel like the fanbases have more in common than not. For those of you who have attended a Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, you know that typically Wyoming and UNM have the largest, most passionate fans inside the Thomas & Mack. They live for Lobo basketball, especially.

We also share a deep distain for that institution in Provo. Most of the fanbases in the ol' WAC do.

I really hope that loyalty leaks into the football stadium again one day. This conference is better off when the Lobos are relevant in both sports.

Gourmet 'Gaiting with Mr. Rogers

In this week's episode, Ryan Rogers cooks up some grub with a Southwestern flair. When you talk about New Mexico, food always has to include green chili, right?

Well, it does.

Check that out right here:

Get caught up on the Lobos

Here are a few stories to get you ready for tonight's matchup with New Mexico:

Here is all you need to know about Saturday's tilt in the desert

WHO: Wyoming (2-2) at New Mexico (0-5)
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 5 at 8:30 p.m. MST
WEATHER: High of 47, low 43 degrees, clear, winds at 5 mph
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.
TVCBS Sports Network (Channel 158 on Dish Network; 221 on DirecTV; 94 on Verizon Fios; 734 Xfinity)
RADIO: Wyoming affiliates
STREAMING: CBS Sports Network
TICKETS: Not available to the public
ROSTERS: Wyoming / New Mexico
VEGAS ODDS: Wyoming -17.5, O/U 52.5
HISTORY: Wyoming is 38-34 in the all-time series (Last meeting: 23-10 Wyoming win in 2019)
HEAD COACHES: Craig Bohl / Danny Gonzales

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