For the second straight year, the UTEP Miners (1-0) play their first conference game in the second week of the season when they take on the SMU Mustangs (0-1) on Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. Mountain time (6 p.m. Central). The game will be carried on Fox Sports, with Bill Land (play-by-play), Gary Reasons (color analyst) and Desmond Purnell (sideline) calling the action. Only twice in school history has UTEP played its first conference road game earlier than Sept. 10. The Miners opened their Western Athletic Conference away slate at Air Force on Aug. 31, 1985, and at Wyoming on Sept. 3, 1994.
The Mustangs dropped a 46-14 decision at eighth-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday night. SMU fell behind 14-0 early, but closed to within 20-14 on a 27-yard pass from J.J. McDermott to Keenan Holman early in the second period. The Aggies, however, closed out the contest by scoring 26 unanswered points. McDermott completed 21-of-34 passes for 254 yards in relief of starter Kyle Padron (2-for-4, 14 yards, two INTs), who was pulled after two series. Zach Line ran for 128 yards on 22 carries for the Mustangs, who finished with 79 yards rushing. Terrance Wilkerson was the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 85 yards. Other standouts for the Ponies included Margus Hunt (two blocked PATs), Chris Banjo (11 tackles) and Ryan Smith (10 stops). SMU was 7-7 last season and participated in the C-USA title game after tying for the West division title with a 6-2 mark. The Mustangs return 52 letterwinners from that squad, including 18 starters (10 offense/eight defense).
The Miners trail the series 10-8, but have won six of the last eight meetings between the Texas rivals.
The Mustangs hold a 6-2 advantage in games played in Dallas. The Miners won at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in 2003 (21-19) and 2007 (48-45 in overtime). Three of the last four games played between the schools in Dallas have been determined by four points or fewer. UTEP coach Mike Price has posted a 5-2 record versus SMU (4-0h/1-2a), and June Jones is 5-4 in his coaching career against the Miners (4-0h/1-4a), including 1-2 while at SMU.