EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With just three games left in the 2022 season, UTEP needs two wins to become bowl eligible for the second year in a row.

At 4-5 on the season, the Miners have a very tough turnaround this week. They’ll hit the road to face Rice on Thursday in Houston.

Dana Dimel said on Monday that this is the first time he’s ever had this short of a turnaround between games as a head coach, after the Miners dropped a tough one to Middle Tennessee, 24-13, on Saturday.

However, this isn’t the first time this year the Miners have had a short week after a loss and the last time it went well for them.

Back on Sept. 17, the Miners were dominated on the road by New Mexico, 27-10, then turned around less than a week later and played arguably their best game of 2022 in a 27-10 win over Boise State on a Friday night at home. UTEP says it’s drawing on that experience this week.

“We’ve tried to make our preparation very similar for this game as it was for that game, except for one day less, but we’ve tried to emulate that as much as possible because it was a good preparation,” Dimel said.

With just three games left in the regular season and a very tough road trip to play UTSA to close the slate, the next two games – at Rice and vs. FIU at home – loom large as pivotal games for the Miners.

Simply put, they’re both must-win games for UTEP’s bowl hopes and the Miners are treating them as such.

“We need a win this week, there’s no other way around it. We don’t have any cushion,” said senior wide receiver Rey Flores. “I know we have three games but we don’t want to push it to the end. We want to win these next two and secure it now.”

UTEP and Rice will kickoff at 5 p.m. MT on Thursday night in Houston. The Miners enter the game as three-point underdogs.