The Rundown: The Lowly Lobos

The matchup between the Oregon Ducks and the New Mexico Lobos is almost like comparing things as opposite as night and day. One program is coming off of a conference championship, BCS Bowl appearance, and a ten win regular season. The other captured its one and only victory eleven games into the season.

Even the front men of these programs are on polar opposites. New Mexico Head Coach Mike Locksley was a very well respected offensive coordinator at the University of Illinois and coached in the Rose Bowl during his four year tenure. His first chance to be an FBS head coach came at UNM.

Chip Kelly was an unknown offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire when Mike Bellotti pulled him across the country to hold the same position for the Oregon. A flash of brilliance and a mountain of injuries filled his first year on the job. The miraculous emergence of a JC quarterback defined his second season. For the start of his third season he would be head coach. One great OC is offered to take over a four win mid-major program, the other gets offered a top-15 program. Life isn't fair in the coaching ranks and neither are the matchups for this football game on September 4th at Autzen Stadium.

The Lobo offense returns five starters. As a Lobo fan you could get excited or depressed that less than half of the offense that averaged 16 points per game in 2009 and ranked no higher than 60th in any relevant statistic nationally is returning. To top all of this off B.R. Holbrook will be making his first collegiate start at Autzen Stadium. We'd have to do some serious digging to find the last time a QB won his first start in the rowdy stadium and it's a guarantee he had a better supporting cast around him than Holbrook will have on Saturday.

The UNM defense returns six starters. Like the offense you could see this as a blessing or a curse as this unit allowed an astronomical 36 points per game in 2009. The schedule last season was far from easy playing three ranked teams and Texas A&M from the Big-12. When you play a team like Oregon known for dominant offenses the last thing you want is a defense that resembles Swiss cheese.

As you would expect the Ducks' outlook on the 2010 season is much brighter than their opponent. The offense returns nine starters for the number eight scoring offense in the country in 2009. The most important part of the returning starters are all five lineman that cleared the way for the sixth best rushing offense in college football during the 2009 season. Leading rusher LaMichael James will be sidelined due to suspension thrusting Kenjon Barner into the starting role.

The Duck defense that led the Pac-10 in almost every statistic in 2009 returns seven starters. It's a very split up between the new guys with fresh faces at tackle, end, linebacker, corner, and safety. The returners are all very proven and the new guys are very talented but it could take a few weeks for them to gel and play to their full potential.

New Mexico Keys to Victory:
Take advantage of Oregon's new QB and capitalize on mistakes
Shut down an Oregon running game without James
Stay balanced on offense

Oregon Keys to Victory Limit high risk situations for Darron Thomas
Be consistent in the running game
Pressure new QB B.R. Holbrook
Contain Tight End Lucas Reed

Prediction: Oregon 57, New Mexico 10

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