EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — UTEP football is relevant in October and squarely in the mix for their first bowl appearance since 2014. The Miners have started the 2021 season 3-1 for the second consecutive year and will look to improve to 4-1 for the first time in over a decade when they host Old Dominion in their Conference USA opener on Saturday.
El Paso has longed for the Miners to field a competitive football team and the time has come. UTEP has shown major improvements over the course of the last four seasons under head coach Dana Dimel, most notably the past couple years.
“For us to have the opportunity to go three games over .500, it would put us in a really, really nice place for the aspirations that we have this season,” said DImel. “Plus, a conference home opener is just gigantic for us.”
The COVID-19 pandemic wrecked havoc in 2020 for the Miners. UTEP played just two home games after their conference opponents opted not to play in El Paso due to rising virus numbers. Much like the rest of the country, UTEP is back to full capacity crowds in 2021. The Miners are averaging 14,812 fans through their first two home games of the season, and the crowd generated some noise in a win over New Mexico last weekend that forced three procedural penalties on the Lobos’ offense.
“The crowd at the game was into the game and that’s the trend that we have to take it to,” said Dimel. “I love the feel of the game. It is much improved and the best its been since we’ve been here. That part just needs to keep coming as we increase the way we play.”
As people begin to feel more and more comfortable attending sporting events, the Miners are hoping they can benefit from a home field advantage during conference play, needing just three wins to become bowl eligible.
“We’re finally turning around like we wanted to,” said UTEP sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing. “It took some time, but with that big win, I think we can really set the tone for the rest of the season. We have the team to make it far — make it to a bowl game and make it to a conference championship.”
Whether it’s in the stands or at home on the sofa, the Miners deserve some backup from the community. After all, a winning football team is exactly what we’ve been asked for.