Lobos and Rebels currently going in opposite directions

Updated: October 30, 2003, 3:45 PM ET

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The caustic e-mails to Rocky Long about the play of his quarterback have ceased. Ditto the phone calls questioning whether his offense can find the end zone.

A four-game winning streak -- including a 47-35 win last week over previously nationally ranked Utah -- has brought peace and promise to the New Mexico Lobos' camp.

The Lobos, losers of three of their first four games, now are the latest streaking team in the Mountain West Conference. That honor belonged to Utah until the Lobos went into Salt Lake City last week and manhandled the then No. 24 ranked Utes.

New Mexico (5-3, 2-1 Mountain West) is home for its next three games, all against league opponents. The Lobos have won six of their last eight conference games in Albuquerque and if they can keep their late-season run going, they'll be in the thick of the chase for the Mountain West Conference title and a bowl bid.

UNLV (4-4, 0-3 MWC) is here Saturday, and while the Rebels are slumping -- they've lost three conference games in a row -- Long cautions that this league is not one in which a team can afford to let up.

"When you do something that people think is exceptional ... you like people patting you on the back and telling you how good you are," Long said. "That's what happened to Utah last week. Everybody's telling them how great they are and there was a little lack of focus. They didn't think we could play. They found out we could play."

And how.

New Mexico's offense, dormant earlier in the season, ran over and through the Utes' defense for 633 total yards, 407 of them rushing. Kelly, the target of most of the criticism when the offense was struggling, had 294 total yards.

New Mexico's offense was so effective that tackle Jason Lenzmeier became the first offensive lineman in the history of the Mountain West to be named the offensive Player of The Week. That honor usually goes to a quarterback, running back or wide receiver.

UNLV's season has been a near reversal of New Mexico's. The Rebels won four of their first five games, including a win in September over then nationally ranked Wisconsin. But they've struggled in the conference and last week lost 27-20 in overtime to Brigham Young.

Rebels coach John Robinson indicated this week his team has been too conservative on offense. Being conservative, he said, worked early in the season when UNLV was protecting a lead, but isn't working now.

"Now that we find ourselves in situations where we're behind in games, our pass offense isn't producing the way we should," Robinson said. "We've got to improve on our ideas about passing and how we're going about it."

Long said UNLV's biggest problem in its three-game slide hasn't been play calling, but rather mistakes at critical times. Last week the Rebels lost a fumble inside their own 10-yard line, missed a 24-yard field goal and gave up the BYU touchdown that sent the game into overtime with 29 seconds left in regulation.

"That's how it's been for them the last three weeks," Long said.

But despite the slump, Long says UNLV remains a dangerous team.

"I'm just worried that the team I watched on TV against Wisconsin might be the one that shows up Saturday night," Long said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index