EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The UTEP football team resumed practice on Friday ahead of Sunday’s big bowl game announcement. The Miners will find out which bowl game they will play in on college football’s version of Selection Sunday.
UTEP is bowl eligible for the first time since 2014, and it seems to be a consensus where the Miners are headed. The New Mexico Bowl has expressed interest in bringing UTEP back to Albuquerque, which is where the Miners played in 2010 and 2014. This year’s New Mexico Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 18 at 12 p.m. MT in Albuquerque, and will be broadcasted on ESPN.
The Miners are allotted 15 practices ahead of their bowl game, something head coach Dana Dimel feels like is more valuable to some of his younger, inexperienced players.
“You do want to use it as a mini-spring ball situation,” said Dimel. “We got our young guys some full speed reps today, and it just helps your team unity — the more practices, the more comradery and the preparation for one big game is important for teams to get that feel.”
For the players, they don’t seem to care too much which bowl game they play in. Whether it’s the New Mexico Bowl or the Frisco Bowl, the Miners are just excited to still be practicing in the month of December, something that hasn’t happened in preparation for a bowl game in seven years over at Glory Field.
“At the beginning of the year, Coach [Dave] Warner (UTEP offensive coordinator) preached it was time to have a good season, and we did — it’s amazing,” said UTEP junior offensive lineman Bobby DeHaro. “We’re all happy, the energy is up and you can tell.”
After starting the season 6-1, the Miners did stumble down the stretch, losing four of their last five games to finish 7-5. Most bowl projections, regardless of the bowl, have UTEP playing a Mountain West Conference opponent. Nevada (8-4) and Wyoming (6-6) appear to be the most likely opponent, however, Air Force (9-3), Utah State (9-3) and Fresno State (9-3) are also possibilities for the Miners. Boise State (7-5) seems unlikely considering the two teams played each other at the beginning of the season.
The Miners will be searching for their first bowl win since 1967 when the team won their fifth Sun Bowl. It is the only bowl game UTEP has won in program history.