Nov. 18, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
When the Wyoming Cowboys and New Mexico Lobos face off Saturday in University Stadium in Albuquerque, it will match up two of the Mountain West Conference's best teams. Both squads are bowl eligible, with identical 6-4 overall records. Utah is the other bowl eligible team entering this week. Brigham Young is the only other MWC team with bowl hopes. The Cougars, 5-5 overall, have to defeat Utah in Salt Lake City to gain bowl eligibility.
Both Wyoming and New Mexico are battling for second place in the MWC. New Mexico enters Saturday's game 4-2 in conference play - Wyoming is 3-3. Both teams are also playing to finish strong, as bowl selection committees decide which MWC teams they want to choose for their bowl games.
The Cowboys are the most improved team in the league. UW was picked to finish last in the eight-team MWC in the conference's preseason poll, but is currently tied for fourth place with Colorado State at 3-3. The Cowboys could tie New Mexico for second with a win Saturday. New Mexico was picked fourth in the preseason conference rankings but has reeled off four consecutive victories to become the league's hottest team after Utah, which is undefeated.
The three bowl games that have direct ties to the Mountain West Conference are the Liberty Bowl, which is scheduled to feature the MWC Champion vs. the Conference USA Champion. The Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, which has the second choice of MWC bowl eligible teams, and the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, which must select the next highest placing team in the MWC that is bowl eligible.
Saturday's Wyoming and New Mexico game will kick off at 1 p.m., Mountain time, and will be televised on ESPN Regional television.