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Rio Grande Rivalry Game Will Have Plenty of Fun

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There were plenty of lights, cameras and action last week as New Mexico opened its home schedule against Tennessee Tech.

And then the game started.

This week fans can expect more of the same as rival New Mexico State comes to town for a 6 pm showdown in the 113th meeting of the Rio Grande Rivalry on Saturday, September 16 at University Stadium.  Tickets are now starting to fly off the shelves, so fans shouldn’t wait and can click here to purchase tickets.

For most folks in the state, this isn’t just a football game, although to hear UNM’s players, it’s just game three on a 12-game schedule and they are all important.  For head coach Danny Gonzales, as a life-long native of Albuquerque and a UNM alum, he certainly has passion for the rivalry.  “Our guys know that it’s important to me, but they have the right attitude for this game. It’s a game against a very good, very hungry football team.  It’s not often in this rivalry where both teams feel really good about their teams, so this should be a terrific game.”

With the crowd expected to be easily the largest crowd for a sporting event in the state this season, Vice President/Director of Athletics Eddie Nuñez opened up Tuesday’s press conference urging Lobos fans on several points relating to the game this weekend.  To wit:

*Arrive early.  The weather should be perfect, so come out early, enjoy the tailgating lots and the Albertsons Howl Zone, and make sure you can get a parking spot, because they will fill up.  Parking lots will open eight hours prior to kickoff (so 10 a.m. instead of noon) this week.

*Arrive into the stadium early.  Fans should make their way into University Stadium with plenty of time to spare.  With a crowd of 30,000+ expected, it may take longer to go through the metal detectors to gain entrance.  There will be more metal detectors available in anticipation of the larger crowd, but fans should arrive at the gates early.  Gates will open 30 minutes earlier than usual, opening at 4 p.m.

*To help speed the process of entrance up, fans are asked to make sure tickets are already downloaded into the phone wallets and to make sure pockets are clear when entering metal detectors.  Also, everyone abides by and uses clear bags.  For fans that need a quick refresher on UNM’s clear bag policy, it’s available right here.

*Fans can always use a rideshare service to and from the game.  Rideshare services drop off at the North side of the stadium nearst to Gate 5.  Fans can also use the Lot T Shuttle on Lomas and University.

As for the events around the event, those are plentiful too.  The Howl Zone (which is free!) will feature low riders, a mariachi band, and folk dancers, along with food vendors and free games.  This week’s GameDay Lobo Den Shirts will be on sale for We are New Mexico Day, and 500 special We Are New Mexico posters will be given away for fans in the Howl Zone.

Fans will definitely want to get to their seats in time for the pregame parachute jumpers that will be looking for a perfect landing on the midfield logo. During the first quarter, Lobo great Terance Mathis will officially be presented with his NFF/College Football Hall of Fame plaque before he is formally inducted into the Hall in December.  Mathis, who is one of two Lobos to earn Hall honors (Brian Urlacher being the other), was last back in Albuquerque for his Ring of Honor induction in 2017.

Fans will also want to stick around until the end of the game to catch the giant postgame fireworks show after the game.

For the team however, this game is about getting a second straight win and getting the taste of last years’ 21-9 loss in Las Cruces out of their mouths.  “It’s 73-34-5 all-time, but they won the most important one and that’s the last one, so we have to come out and play hard,” said Gonzales.  “I know they will.”

The Lobos don’t return home after this one until October 14 against San Jose State, heading to UMass next week and then opening the conference schedule at Wyoming on September 30.