EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP is 2-0 for the first time in 16 yearS and is now the Miners are eying a lot more than just a fast start to the 2021 season.
The Miners have early aspirations of making a bowl game in year four under head coach Dana Dimel, something they haven’t done since 2014. As a ‘Group of 5’ program that hasn’t experienced much recent success, on Friday, UTEP will face the university that wrote the book on having success outside of the Power 5 conferences.
UTEP will play Boise State (0-1) on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium Friday night; the Broncos have been one of the best teams in all of college football the last 15 years. Since 2006, Boise State has finished in the top 25 10 different times; they’ve won eight bowl games in that time, three of them of the BCS/New Year’s Six variety (Fiesta Bowl wins in 2006, 2009 and 2014).
They’ve done it all while playing out of the WAC and Mountain West Conferences, two leagues not exactly known for high-level college football success over the years. The Broncos have truly laid the ‘blueprint’ for Group of 5 programs hoping to make the leap.
It’s something UTEP itself looks at, as Dimel continues to grow the Miners’ program.
“They are the mid-major that everyone wants to be. They’re a mid-major/Power 5 program,” said Dimel. “They’ve had a ton of success over a long period of time. Central Florida has now gotten into that conversation too.”
Interestingly enough, UCF defeated Boise State in Week 1. Though the Broncos have laid a framework for Group of 5 success, the Miners want to forge their own way.
“They’ve been in some big games and situations and we would like to be as well, but at the same time we’d like to have our own path,” said UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison.
The Broncos are a 26-point favorite over the Miners heading into Friday’s showdown. Other than running back Deion Hankins, who was already ruled out by Dimel on Monday, UTEP’s impact players were all back and healthy at Wednesday’s practice. That includes defensive lineman Kelton Moss and running back Quardraiz Wadley, who were going through drills.
UTEP and Boise State will kick off at 7:30 p.m. MT on Friday. The game can be seen on FS1.