Lobos book 2025 games at Michigan's Big House, UCLA's Rose Bowl

Will Webber, The Santa Fe New Mexican
·3 min read

Apr. 8—In the pantheon of college football stadiums, few can match the history and prestige of Rose Bowl or the Big House.

The University of New Mexico will visit both in the span of just 14 days in 2025.

UNM announced Wednesday it has added Michigan to its nonconference schedule four years from now. The Lobos will open their 2025 season at Michigan Stadium, an Aug. 30 road date that will be the first meeting between UNM and the Wolverines.

New Mexico will hold its home opener a week later against Idaho State, then head to Pasadena, Calif., for a Sept. 13, 2025, date with UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

In financial terms, it's a huge windfall for UNM. The school gets guaranteed payouts totaling $3 million for the two games. The football team's average annual budget is about $10 million.

Michigan will pay UNM $1.8 million over three installments, the first coming no later than March 31, 2022, when Michigan agrees to transfer $300,000 to UNM. A second payment of $500,000 comes two years later with the final $1 million given to UNM no later than March 31, 2026.

The game contract for UCLA is for $1.2 million.

Seven-figure game guarantees to play on the road against Power Five opponents has been a trend for UNM for several years. The truncated 2020 season snapped a 20-year streak of playing at least one game against a team from a major conference.

The Lobos were originally scheduled to play at USC in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and against Mississippi State out of the Southeastern Conference in the fall. Both games were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. UNM to played an abbreviated seven-game season in 2020, with all games played against Mountain West Conference rivals.

Upcoming dates against Power Five schools include trips to Texas A&M (2021, 2023 and 2027), LSU (2022), Auburn (2024), Oklahoma (2026) and Oregon State (2027). The game against Oregon State is part of a home-and-home series during which the Beavers will visit Albuquerque in 2028. According to the game contract approved by each school, neither school will receive guaranteed compensation from the other.

As for the others, UNM will get $12.4 million in game guarantees from the other eight games over the next seven years. The largest payout comes from the trip to Auburn on Sept. 14, 2024. New Mexico will get $1.9 million for that one game.

UNM has at least one remaining open nonconference date between 2024 and 2029. New Mexico athletic director Eddie Nuñez has said in the past that the football team will make frequent use of the so-called bodybag games against Power Five programs as a means to make ends meet.

Most of the funds from the 2022 trip to LSU have already been paid to UNM. Much of it was earmarked to help balance previous budgets, and for the buyout of former Lobos head coach Bob Davie, who was fired by the school in 2019.

He was replaced by current coach Danny Gonzales, who spent part of his initial days on the job by saying he'd be willing to play any team anywhere in an attempt to increase the marketability of Lobo football and get exposure on a national scale.

He'll get just that with the 2025 dates with Michigan and UCLA. With a seating capacity of 107,601, Michigan Stadium will be the largest venue the Lobos have ever played in and could draw the largest crowd in UNM football history. The Lobos played before 100,990 fans during a 45-0 road loss at Texas in 2012 and 99,051 in a 2017 loss at Texas A&M.

The Rose Bowl seats 90,888 and has hosted the famed postseason bowl game of the same name, as well as five Super Bowls. UCLA has played its home games there since 1982.