Photo courtesy of New Mexico athletics

Looking forward to the 2020 season, one can feel the excitement building in Albuquerque. Coming off of a two-win season in 2019, the New Mexico Lobos are destined to test the Mountain West under first-year head coach Danny Gonzales.

Will the short offseason give the Lobos enough time to develop returning starters? Are we still too early in the process with a new coach at the helm? Here are some early predictions for the 2020 New Mexico football season:

PREDICTIONS

Week 1 – vs. Idaho State

The Lobos will look to start the year off with a fast start against Idaho State. Many fans are curious to see how the pandemic will affect performance across college football as a whole. There will be some Week 1 rust and adjustments to make. With that being said, it’s hard not to like the Lobos in this one.

Prediction: New Mexico 41, Idaho State 17

Week 2 – at Mississippi State

Week 2 poses an early-season challenge for New Mexico. Coming off what should be a Week 1 win, the Lobos will have the potential to stick around in this game. Going on the road to a hostile SEC environment, Mississippi State will take this game in the second half.

Prediction: Mississippi State 31, New Mexico 14

Week 3 – at USC

After visiting an SEC opponent, New Mexico will run into a Pac-12 powerhouse. This will be the first face-off between the two schools. USC has been rebuilding its brand in recent years. It is not the same powerhouse it was a decade ago, but it is a competitive Power 5 school. USC will test the New Mexico defense early in the game. The Lobos untimately won’t hang around for very long.

Prediction: USC 45, New Mexico 20

Week 4 – at New Mexico State

Facing a third straight away game, the Lobos will roll into Las Cruces. Coming off two losses against Power 5 opponents, New Mexico will look to rebound. This is a rivalry game where stakes are higher, and the blood boils. Last year, the Lobos sneaked out in a shootout with a 55-52 win. Against a bitter rival, New Mexico prevails late.

Prediction: New Mexico 48, New Mexico State 42

Week 5 – BYE

The Lobos get a chance to rest after running an early-season gauntlet.

Week 6 – vs. Massachusetts

New Mexico, after a week of rest, will go up against Massachusetts in Albuquerque. UMass has evolved into a more competitive program over the last few years. The Minutemen will come into Albuquerque and play tough. Look for this game to be a nail-bitter. New Mexico will sneak out of this game with a last-minute score.

Prediction: New Mexico 27, UMass 24

Week 7 – at Colorado State

Heading into conference play, New Mexico will have to scratch and claw for wins. There is no easy game in the Mountain West. Most predictions show the Lobos finishing last in the conference. At 3-2, the Lobos would need three wins over seven games to qualify for a bowl game. Colorado State is an emerging team that will look to make a bowl push. New Mexico losses a close one in Colorado Springs.

Prediction: Colorado State 34, New Mexico 24

Week 8 – vs. Nevada

Nevada is a contender in the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack will visit the Lobos in Albuquerque. New Mexico will go down early in this game but attempt to come back late. It will fall well short. Nevada will run out of Albuquerque with a Win.

Prediction: Nevada 38, New Mexico 20

Week 9 – at Utah State

Traveling to Utah State in Week 9, the Lobos will look to rebound against a very tough team. The Aggies have been dominating the conference in recent years, but have a brutal non-conference schedule. Utah State could start the year 1-5. There are a lot of question marks surrounding Utah State, but it will handle New Mexico at home.

Prediction: Utah State 44, New Mexico 27

Week 10 – vs. San Jose State

The Lobos will play San Jose State at home on Halloween. The Spartans will play Penn State and Michigan early in the year. They have a brutal schedule and will struggle. On a 3-game losing skid, the Lobos will be desperate to rebound in conference play. This game will be crucial and a major turning point in the season. This is a must-win game and New Mexico will play hard with its season on the line. This will serve as New Mexico’s first conference win.

Prediction: New Mexico 35, San Jose State 24

Week 11 – at Hawaii

For New Mexico, this is a game that has some of the most intrigue behind it. New Mexico will go into Honolulu to face the Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii is losing a star quarterback, but can rely on a nationally known running back in Miles Reed to carry the load. The Lobos will need to stop the run to have a chance this game. Coach Gonzalez will have his guys ready to go, and the front seven will step up in a major way. In their biggest upset of the season, the Lobos win a surprising, low-scoring game.

Prediction: New Mexico 21, Hawaii 17

Week 12 – vs. Boise State

Boise State has been a conference powerhouse and household name for years now. The Broncos are returning a ton of talent and compiling another good recruiting class. Boise State will have a shot at the Mountain West and will walk out of Albuquerque with a streak-ending win.

Prediction: Boise State 42, New Mexico 14

Week 13 – at Air Force

Air Force is receiving a lot of praise in many conference outlooks. The Falcons have proven they can beat Power 5 programs with the traditional option. Coming off of a big loss against Boise State, the turnaround for the Lobos will be too quick. New Mexico will not be able to stop the option and Air Force will take the win.

Prediction: Air Force 24, New Mexico 14

Week 14 vs. Wyoming

With a bowl game on the line, New Mexico will welcome Wyoming into Albuquerque. Wyoming returns key talent on both sides of the ball and should see at least seven wins in 2020. New Mexico will fight hard, but Wyoming is the more developed team. There is a possibility the Cowboys slip up on the last week, but they’re simply the better team.

Prediction: Wyoming 28, New Mexico 24

SUMMARY

Final Record: (5-7)
New Mexico will make significant strides in 2020 towards success. A difficult non-conference schedule will present some adversity early in the year. This team is tough and behind a new coach, it might be a bit of an adjustment. It’s hard to see the Lobos going bowling, but a five-win season would be a significant stride forward from 2019.