In the aftermath of Saturday's devastating loss, the Utah football team was left to try to figure out what went wrong in the second half against New Mexico.

All year long the Utes have prided themselves as an experienced, second-half team. They had outscored opponents 104-33 in the third quarter and 90-32 in the fourth quarter, a whopping 194-65 edge in the second half.But against the Lobos, the Utes weren't the poised and polished team that had withstood second-half challenges from the likes of Oregon, San Diego State and Hawaii. They were outscored 13-0 in the second half by a team that was statistically the third-worst defense in the country.

Neither coach Ron McBride nor his players were willing to admit the Utes were overconfident against the Lobos, saying it was a matter of lack of execution.

"We didn't make the plays, plain and simple," said quarterback Mike McCoy.

At least one Lobo player, quarterback Stoney Case, said the Utes seemed to lack spirit in the second half.

"Their defense was real quiet in the second half, no enthusiasm at all," said Case. "Every time we went out there, they just waited for us to do something. They were really quiet, I was surprised."

At least the Ute loss was a team thing. As McBride said, "Everyone has a part in this. It didn't come down to one guy or one play."

Punter Jason Jones added, "The nice thing is we lost as a team. We'll take the loss as a team."

Next up for Utah is Air Force, which has reeled off six consecutive victories since opening the season with three straight losses. The Falcons, of course, possess perhaps the finest wishbone option attack in the country and the Utes have struggled with the option attacks of Colorado State and New Mexico and they have work to do to prepare for the Falcons.

Defensive coordinator Fred Whittingham thought the Ute defense did a good job stopping Case, who finished with minus one yard rushing.

"But we didn't do a good job of tackling the pitch back," said Whittingham. Running back Winslow Oliver finished with 91 yards rushing.

The leaders of the Ute team are confident that Utah will come back from the disappointing defeat.

"It's disappointing and a tough one to get over," said Luther Ellis. "But our goals are still the same, to win the WAC and go to the Holiday Bowl."

"We're going to bounce back strong, no question about it," said McCoy.

Saturday's game in Colorado Springs begins at noon.

UTE NOTES: Two Utes suffered injuries Saturday - Mike Wilson, who left with a sprained knee and David Kozlowski, who suffered a bruised sternum in a violent collision late in the first quarter . . . The Albuquerque Journal called it the biggest win in University of New Mexico history.