The University of New Mexico Lobos head to South Bend, Indiana this Saturday to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. It is a historic meeting for the Lobos and the Fighting Irish, as the two teams will face off for the first time on the gridiron.
The Lobos enter the game with a 1-0 record after defeating Sam Houston St. 39-31 at DreamStyle Stadium on 8/31. The No. 7 ranked Irish also enter Saturday’s tilt with a 1-0 record after beating Cardinals 35-17 in Louisville last week.
As one would expect with an unranked school taking on the 7th-ranked team in the Nation, the Lobos are 35-point dogs in the eyes of the oddsmakers in Vegas and will need everything to go their way for them to pull off the upset at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Ian Book on offense, and defensive end Julian Okwara on defense. Book is a dual-threat QB who can beat you with both his arm and his legs, while Okwara is a highly touted NFL prospect who will give the Lobos fits all day off the edge.
Book threw for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals last week while adding 81 yards and a rushing touchdown on 14 carries. UNM’s ability to keep Book in the pocket while getting pressure with their front four will be critical if the Lobos have any chance of pulling off the massive upset.
Another player to watch on Notre Dame is safety Alohi Gilman. The 5’10”, 200-pound junior from Laie, HI is a skilled run support safety who posted 94 tackles last season and led the Irish in tackles against Louisville. Gilman is considered one of the best safeties in the country and will be someone offensive coordinator Joe Dailey accounts for in his scheme.
On a sad note for the Lobos, current head coach and former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie will not make the trip with the team due to health issues. Running backs coach Saga Tuitele will be the acting head coach for game management, while Dailey, defensive coordinator Jordan Peterson, and special teams coordinator Perry Eliano will handle their respective duties in the game.
Although clearly disappointed about missing the opportunity to coach against his former team, Davie told reporters at his weekly press conference on Tuesday that he “Doesn’t want this game to be about him. This is all about the players and the coaches who get to go play ay South Bend.”
Davie will look to return to the sideline the following Saturday the when the Lobos return home to host their in-state rival New Mexico State Aggies on 9/21.
Television coverage of the Notre Dame game will be provided by NBC, with Mike Tirico and Doug Flutie on the call. Kickoff is set for 12:30 MST.