Lobos picked to finish 5th in 6-team Mountain division

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By The Staff

There was some good news and some bad news for the University of New Mexico Lobos coming out of Mountain West Media Day Tuesday.
The good news: the Lobos have a pair of the conference’s top players in LaMar Bratton and Carlos Wiggins.
But the bad news is that Wiggins and Bratton don’t appear to be enough to make up for the team’s downsides in the MW race this year.
The Lobos were picked to finish fifth in the six-team Mountain Division of the conference — the MW is split into two six-team divisions, the other being the West Division. In all, the Lobos earned 56 points, the third-lowest total among the 12 conference teams.
In the Mountain Division, only Air Force, one of the three teams UNM defeated in 2013, was rated lower, with 53 points.
UNM is coming off a rough season. It finished 3-9, with those three wins coming against Air Force’s Falcons, UTEP and in-state rival New Mexico State University.
This will also be the third year for the program under head coach Bob Davie.
Since Davie took over in 2012, the Lobos have gone 7-18, which, while hardly an impressive haul, is considerably better than the 3 wins in 3 years posted by predecessor Mike Locksley, who was fired midway through 2011.
UNM will open its 2014 season Aug. 30 against UTEP.
As for their top players in the preseason rankings, Bratton is an offensive lineman who has started all 37 games of his collegiate career.
Bratton was named to the Rimington Award Watch List earlier this month, which is given to the top lineman in the nation.
Wiggins, meanwhile, was named the preseason Special Teams Player of the Year in the MW. Wiggins was the 2013 Special Teams Player of the Year for the conference after leading the nation with 1,303 kickoff return yards, to go along with three return touchdowns.
Teamwise, Boise State finished with 20 first-place votes in the Mountain Division and 183 points overall. That was better, but only slightly, than the total for Utah State, which earned 176 points and 12 first-place votes.
Utah State upset Boise State and Fresno State for the MW title last year.
Fresno State’s Bulldogs, meanwhile, nipped San Diego State in an even closer poll for the top ranking in the West Division of the conference. Fresno State finished with 174 points, while San Diego State had 172. Both had 15 first-place votes.
Among the other top players in the MW, hard-hitting Fresno State safety Derron Smith was named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year, while Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton was the media’s pick for Offensive Player of the Year.
Keeton had 18 TDs missed much of 2013 with a knee injury.