ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s never about the start. It’s always about the finish.

The UNM Lobos Football team believes a strong finish will be in their future despite losing two of their first three games, the latest to rival New Mexico State 27-17. Lobos Head Coach Danny Gonzales made a bold prediction after the loss last Saturday, saying his team would definitely be headed to a bowl game at the end of the year. Players are determined to make him an honest man.

“I feel like I’m up for any kind of challenge,” said UNM safety Tavion Combs. “You can tell both sides of the ball, not even just offense, offense and defense. We picked it up tremendously. We’ve been out there competing and really busting our tail. So, it’s really just trying to finish the game and get the game finished is really what we need to work, and just going out there and just playing complementary football.”

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If past history has a say, the Lobos might actually experience their coach’s prediction of going to a bowl game. Coach Gonzales was part of the staff of Rocky Long in 2002 when the Lobos lost five of their first 8 games but, turned their season around enough to finish second in league play and become bowl-eligible, accepting a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl. Lobos redshirt senior transfer quarterback Dylan Hopkins has experienced a slow start with a fast finish during his collegiate career.

“I kind of look at it in the past just whenever I was UAB too. We had that early Liberty loss. I was kind of reflecting like that too, just, you know, that don’t let that one game define us, you know. We ended up doing really good that year,” said Hopkins. “So, now we just really control the team. Don’t let the guys freak out over a loss like this. It hurts really, really bad, you know, in-state rivalries, really sucks, but move forward. You know, there is a long football season ahead of us. We got to get better every day.”

The Lobos are at UMASS on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game.