The season is starting with the return to a matchup that has a history dating back to 1908. Arizona and New Mexico played each other in 23 straight seasons from 1920-42 and another 32 straight seasons from 1946-77. Since then, though, there have only been five matchups — Arizona has gone 3-2 — with the most recent win coming in the 2015 New Mexico Bowl. Actually, Arizona and New Mexico have played in two bowl games with neither one occurring at a neutral site. The New Mexico Bowl was, predictably, played in Albuquerque, and New Mexico played in Tucson in Arizona Stadium in the 1997 Insight.com Bowl.
Another interesting wrinkle to this year's matchup lies in Arizona special teams coordinator and linebackers coach Danny Gonzales. Gonzales' last stop before Tucson was a four-season stint as head coach of the program where he played quarterback and punter back in the day: New Mexico. He was fired in December 2023 after the conclusion of the regular season; his career record with the Lobos was 11-32.
The Lobos have taken a few major hits this offseason. Along the offensive line, tackle J.C. Davis is heading to Illinois, and from the interior, Shacco Matautia will be a Sun Devil, CJ James will be at UTSA, and DJ Wingfield will play for Purdue. 1,200-yard rusher Jacory Croskey-Merritt also entered the transfer portal, and the safety tandem of Zach Morris, the team leader in PBUs, and Jer'Marius Lewis, the team leader in interceptions, both transferred to UTSA. It feels safe to say that New Mexico will still be going through growing pains in Week 1, and this should be a win for Arizona.