UTEP looking to flip script on New Mexico State’s recent Battle of I-10 dominance

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It’s no secret in the Borderland; New Mexico State has dominated UTEP in the Battle of I-10 rivalry showdown in recent years.

The Aggies have won the last three meetings between the two sides, in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The rivalry was not played in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Miners head coach Dana Dimel has yet to beat the rivals to the north and UTEP’s last win over NMSU came in 2016 at the Sun Bowl. The Miners also beat the Aggies in 2015 in Las Cruces.

Only three players on UTEP’s roster have any experience beating the Aggies. The trio of Walter Dawn, Josh Ortega and Quardraiz Wadley were all on the Miners’ roster in 2016 when UTEP last beat the Aggies.

Dimel’s overhaul of the roster has been impressive, even since the last Battle of I-10 in 2019. Very few players on the current roster played meaningful snaps the last time these two teams played, so Dimel thinks the 2021 edition will be entirely different.

“We have a lot of guys on the roster that weren’t here the last time we played New Mexico State and some of our top players were young guys the last time,” said Dimel. “There’s a good group of guys that have never lined up on our team (against NMSU), so this will their first opportunity to do so and I think they’re excited.”

UTEP practiced on Monday morning in El Paso, beginning preparations for the Aggies at Glory Field. New Mexico State, meanwhile, took Monday off and will return to the field on Tuesday.

Aggies head coach Doug Martin has not yet named a starting quarterback; Jonah Johnson and Weston Eget have been battling for the job all fall camp. The announcement could come on Tuesday at Martin’s weekly press conference.

The Miners said on Monday that it doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback for NMSU; they are preparing for both players. UTEP enters the game as either a 9 or 10-point favorite – depending on which betting site you look at – and the Miners are confident heading in to Saturday.

“Me and Coach Dimel were talking about it the other day, it would be a great way to go out with a win against New Mexico State,” said UTEP safety Justin Prince. “They got the best of us the last couple of years, but this is a different team with a new attitude. We’re coming different this year against New Mexico State and hopefully we’ll get a win.”

Kickoff in the Battle of I-10 is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

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