Bob Davie knew exactly how to begin his opening statement during Tuesday’s press conference.
“There’s an elephant in the room. I know what you are all thinking,” Davie addressed the media. “Incarnate Word to Wisconsin.”
The University of New Mexico football team is traveling to Madison, Wis., to take on the University of Wisconsin Badgers. It’s an understatement to say that this opponent will be different from Incarnate Word, the team the Lobos defeated 62-30 last weekend. Davie said he had a lot of respect for UIW, but he is well aware how tough this upcoming game will be.
As of Monday afternoon, Wisconsin is ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 poll, one spot down from last week. The Badgers count with Heisman candidate running back Jonathan Taylor who had 145 yards on 18 carries last weekend when Wisconsin defeated Western Kentucky 34-3. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin’s quarterback, went 17 of 29 in passes with a total of 257 yards and two touchdowns. The Badgers went 13-1 last year, and 9-0 in the Big Ten. This season the expectations remain just as high, as the team was picked to finish first in the Western Division.
PFF's Big Ten Week 1 Team of the Week – Offense pic.twitter.com/Mx4U6LJUxq
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) September 4, 2018
During their game against Incarnate Word, the Lobos were not perfect by any means, but they did show improvement form last year. New Mexico’s offense is stepping up as reflected by starting quarterback Tevaka Tuioti’s 327 yards thrown and his four touchdown passes. It’s been 16 years since a Lobo quarterback has recorded four during a single game ( Nov. 30, 2002, Casey Kelly against the Wyoming Cowboys).
Davie admitted that the obvious weakness was the defense, as his team shouldn’t have allowed their FCS opponent 30 points. Incarnate Word scored during its first possession and also collected a total of 566 total yards. UIW recorded 491 yards of offense against Western Kentucky, this is a team the Lobos will need to defend a little harder
FanSided featured an article that compared stats between New Mexico and Wisconsin, and it didn’t look too good for the Lobos: Wisconsin Football vs. New Mexico Lobos: Tale of the tape
The Badgers have the size and the stats, throw in an intimidating environment and you got yourself some major trouble.
Sure, New Mexico sold out its student section and opened more seats last weekend. However, the official attendance was 18,213 people. This seems small compared to Wisconsin’s 74,145 fans during their own home opener. Badger fans are known for their enthusiasm, specially between the third and fourth quarter with the famous Jump Around. Definitely not friendly territory for the Lobos’ first road game of the season, but Davie says he thinks his team can manage.
The coach said the Jump Around was “pretty neat” to see and that he thinks his players are actually looking forward to this type of environment. He added that the team is better prepared for larger crowd noise than a year ago. But at the end of the day, Davie said, it will all come down to football, not the fans.
“Don’t think that those surroundings are going to give you any boost,” he said. “Those surroundings are going to make no difference when you’re lined up against the guy you are lined up with. Sometimes you think, ‘Ok, we are going to go in and we are going to play with this unbelievable effort because there’s going to be this surrounding.’ None of that matters when the ball is kicked off.”