UNM Football: Games at Notre Dame, Liberty huge for Davie, Dailey

Steve Virgen
Albuquerque Journal
In this Oct. 20, 2017, file photo, New Mexico coach Bob Davie walks on the field during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Colorado State in Albuquerque, N.M.

ALBUQUERQUE — At least two of New Mexico's road games on the 2019 schedule that was released Monday will be extra meaningful for head coach Bob Davie and offensive coordinator Joe Dailey.

The Lobos, on Sept. 14, will play at Notre Dame, a College Football Playoff semifinalist and one of five bowl teams on UNM's schedule.

Davie will be returning to South Bend, where he was head coach of the Fighting Irish from 1997-2001. Before that he spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz.

Davie, who attended the UNM women's basketball team's win against Fresno State at Dreamstyle Arena — The Pit on Saturday, said he really only thinks about the game against Notre Dame when it's brought up to him by Lobo fans or other people.

"I had four different people mention to me on Saturday that they already have their tickets for the trip to Notre Dame," Davie said Monday. "I honestly haven't thought about it as much as it's brought to my attention and how big of a deal it is to our fans."

Notre Dame is second all-time with 11 national championships, and fourth all-time with a .726 winning percentage. The Fighting Irish have had more consensus All-Americans (102) and Heisman Trophy winners (7) than any other team, and they are second in NFL draft picks (499) and fourth with 799 weeks in the AP poll.

"That experience is something that is very unique," Davie said of coaching at Notre Dame. "The game is a great opportunity for our players to experience what the dynamics of playing there will be. It's a great opportunity for our fans to experience it."

On Sept. 28, the Lobos play at Liberty in Lynchburg, Va., where Dailey worked as an assistant for seven seasons, the final three as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dailey, hired last month after Calvin Magee left for Ole Miss, is also the Lobos' quarterbacks coach.

UNM, which has gone 3-9, 1-7 in the Mountain West Conference the past two seasons, opens the season at home against Sam Houston State on Aug. 31, and will then enter its bye week.

The Lobos host rival New Mexico State on Sept. 21.

Davie said the Lobos having an open date after the first game and another open date before the last game jumped out to him. Davie also pointed out the Lobos travel coast to coast in consecutive weeks, as they will play in northern California at San Jose State on Oct. 5 after facing the Flames in Virginia.

"It's exciting just to see on paper what we have," Davie said. "That we have an opportunity to get things turned around."

The Mountain West released team schedules Monday, the first phase in this year's football schedule process. MWC national television partners CBS Sports Network and ESPN now initiate a selection procedure which will include the shifting of certain games to Thursdays and Fridays. That will be followed by the identification of network outlets and kickoff times, along with picks for regional partner AT&T SportNet, Stadium and Spectrum Sports (Hawaii).

Aug. 31 Sam Houston State
Sept. 14 at Notre Dame
Sept. 21 New Mexico State
Sept. 28 at Liberty
Oct. 5 * at San Jose State
Oct. 12 * Colorado State
Oct. 19 * at Wyoming
Oct. 26 * Hawaii
Nov. 2 * at Nevada
Nov. 9 * Air Force
Nov. 16 * at Boise State
Nov. 30 * Utah State
* denotes Mountain West game.
Bold denotes home game.
Game dates are subject to change due to TV scheduling.

In this Sept. 30, 2017, file photo, New Mexico State kick returner Jason Huntley fumbles the ball as he is hit by Arkansas defender Micahh Smith on a kickoff return in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Fayetteville, Ark.