Arizona Football

Random thoughts of Arizona Wildcats vs. New Mexico Lobos


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Random thoughts about Arizona’s matchup with New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl while wondering if former Chicago Bears linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher will place a wager on their schools for the game less than two weeks from now …

You may not remember this but Urlacher played with New Mexico against Arizona in the 1997 Insight.com Bowl at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats beat the Lobos 20-14 in front of 49,385 fans. It was Dick Tomey vs. Dennis Franchione. … New Mexico gets its chance at revenge … ok, maybe not … but the Lobos play host to Arizona this time in a bowl in their own backyard on Dec. 19. Think of it as a home-and-home bowl arrangement that took 18 years to complete. …

Briggs’ freshman season at Arizona was 1999, when Urlacher became a consensus All-American as a senior with the Lobos. Briggs and Urlacher played together as linebackers with the Bears for 10 seasons (2003 to 2012). … Briggs must see a little Urlacher in Scooby Wright, an All-American last season. Urlacher played a cross between linebacker and safety in New Mexico’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme (just like Arizona’s alignment) under then-defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall (BYU’s 11-year coach who is leaving for Virginia). Mendenhall counted on Urlacher covering a lot of ground much like Rich Rodriguez and Jeff Casteel do with Wright. …

Add Insight.com Bowl vs. New Mexico in 1997: Kelvin Eafon, now Pueblo’s basketball coach and a radio personality at KCUB (1290-AM), earned the game’s Most Valuable Player award for his 75 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Thirteen of his rushes came in the fourth quarter when Arizona coach Dick Tomey tried to subdue New Mexico while controlling the clock. Symbolic as always, Tomey started fifth-year senior quarterback Brady Batten against the Lobos instead of Ortege Jenkins because it was Batten’s last game in Tucson. Batten played all but the fourth quarter. Rodriguez sounds like he wants to use senior quarterback Jerrard Randall as much as possible against New Mexico in his last collegiate game, as a receiver. …

A.J. Bramlett, Arizona’s national championship hoops post player in 1996-97, must be happy the Wildcats are coming to his native Albuquerque … Although Tucson and Albuquerque are separated by less than 500 miles, Arizona has not featured too many star athletes from that city other than Bramlett. … Arizona junior defensive lineman Calvin Allen, who has six tackles in limited duty this season, hails from Albuquerque’s La Cueva High School — the same school that produced Bramlett. … Comedian actor Neil Patrick Harris, an Albuquerque native, also attended La Cueva, but I digress …

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Arizona defensive lineman Calvin Allen (upper left) standing with the 2012-13 Albuquerque La Cueva High School hoops team with UCLA guard Bryce Alford (upper right) (MaxPreps photo)

Arizona defensive lineman Calvin Allen (upper left) standing with the 2012-13 Albuquerque La Cueva High School hoops team with UCLA guard Bryce Alford (upper right) (MaxPreps photo)

Allen was a teammate of UCLA guard Bryce Alford for two seasons at La Cueva when Steve Alford was coaching New Mexico. Allen (6’6″ and 266 pounds) was a starting frontcourt player for La Cueva, which lost in consecutive state title games to close out his career there with Alford. … Allen’s father, Calvin Allen III, was an offensive lineman with the Lobos from 1991-95. The younger Allen had scholarship offers from Arizona, New Mexico, San Diego State, New Mexico State and Iowa State. He chose Rodriguez’s program because the Wildcats wanted to play him at defensive end unlike some of the others who projected him as a tight end. …




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When New Mexico coach Bob Davie brought his Notre Dame team to ASU in 1998, his second return to Sun Devil Stadium since Arizona beat ASU there in 1979 on a last-second field goal, I asked him in a teleconference call what he remembered from that game. “I remember that (fellow assistant) Ron Turner and I celebrated on our drive home down I-10,” Davie said. “That was a great win.” … The Wildcats returned to Tempe a few weeks after beating ASU on Brett Weber’s last-second field goal to play Dan Marino and Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl, a game Arizona lost 16-10. … Davie was a graduate assistant under Tony Mason who helped coach the linebackers …

Arizona tight ends/special teams coach Charlie Ragle will make a return to his native New Mexico. He is from Playas, N.M., and played running back at Eastern New Mexico from 1994-97. Maybe he’ll motivate the Wildcats against the Lobos because New Mexico did not recruit him? …

New Mexico operates a triple-option running game that ranks ninth nationally with 246.6 yards a game. The Lobos average 47.4 carries a game. New Mexico rushed an opponent-record 75 times against Arizona in 1971. They ran the ball 63 times against Arizona in 1973. The Wildcats rushed three times more, setting an Arizona record for rushing attempts for both teams (129) in a game. Something like that, we’ll never see again … right? …

Incredible: Some of the longest plays in Arizona history, as listed in the Wildcats’ record book, have occurred against the Lobos …

Floyd Hudlow had an 80-yard run at New Mexico in 1964, tied for 11th highest in the program’s history …

Three passing plays of at least 80 yards have occurred against New Mexico with the most being a 94-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Watters to Alonzo Washington in 1987. That was the second-highest passing play in Arizona history before Trey Griffey zig-zagged his way 95 yards to the end zone against ASU last month. …

Arizona had an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by Sal Gonzalez at New Mexico in 1956. That ranks as the 14th-highest punt return in Arizona history (at that point it was the third highest) …

Six years later, Gary Kenley had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at New Mexico, the seventh-highest in school history (tied for second highest at that point) …

Bill Penn had a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown at New Mexico in 1948, a school record at that time, now 13th-highest in school history.

The one constant opponent in all of these lists in the record book is New Mexico, which means a long play is in store for Arizona against the Lobos. Count on it. …

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Look at Dick Tomey’s expression in the last seconds of Arizona’s 20-14 win over New Mexico in the 1997 Insight.com Bowl at Arizona Stadium. A video of the entire game is on YouTube. Check it out and relive the memories as the Wildcats and Lobos prepare to play each other again in the New Mexico Bowl.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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