EL PASO, Texas – UTEP will open its 106th season at new Conference USA program Jacksonville State on Saturday, Aug. 26 with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. MT/4:30 CT in Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium in Jacksonville, Ala. The Miners and Gamecocks will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network and can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso.

The Miners are opening on week 0 for the third consecutive season, while the Aug. 26 kickoff is the earliest UTEP will open a campaign.

UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel returns for his sixth season under the helm. The Miners are looking to be bowl eligible for the second time in three years after their 2021 New Mexico Bowl appearance.

Thirteen Miners who were All-CUSA in 2022 will suit in the new adidas gear as Praise Amaewhule, Deion Hankins, Tyrice Knight, Angelo Tejada, Marcus Bellon, Steven Hubbard, Kobe Hylton, Elijah Klein, Justin Mayers, Andrew Meyer, Joshua Sloan, Keenan Stewart, and Tyrin Smith will suit up in 2023. UTEP returns seven starters on offense, six on defense and five on special teams. Overall, 41 letterwinners return with the Orange and Blue.

Jax State finished its final campaign as an FCS program with a 9-2 overall record and 5-0 mark in Atlantic Sun Conference action. The Gamecocks rushed for over 2,900 yards, while averaging 251.0 yards per game and scored 37 TDs. JSU ranked first in the ASUN and fifth in FCS in rushing. It’s scoring offense (36.2 ppg) ranked 10th in FCS and first in conference.

“Any time a team goes 9-2, they know how to win, I mean, that’s a strong season for them.,” Dimel said. “They did a great job. They’re very, very athletic. They have great team speed on defense. On offense, they have their version of Frank Harris, a seventh-year quarterback coming back. So, I think he’s got a little bit of experience to what he does. He’s a very good player and very athletic. They got a bevy of runners in the backfield. They’ve got a lot of depth in their backfield. They got four of their five starters coming back on the offensive line, so they have a lot of depth there.”

UTEP came up short of bowl eligibility finishing 5-7 overall and 3-5 in CUSA play. The Miners’ run defense was something to talk about last year as they allowed the least rushing yards per game (136.0) since 1967. UTEP’s rushing attack gained over 2,000 yards for the first time since the 2016 season.

For Jax State, it’s the first time playing as an FBS program, while the Gamecocks are entering their first season in the new CUSA after playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2022, and the Ohio Valley Conference the previous nine seasons (2003-2021).

The Miners will not only face a nine-win team on Saturday, the late-August forecast is calling for a high of 97 degrees and 66 percent humidity.

“We’ve had a very warm summer, as we all know, in El Paso, and we’ve run and conditioned at a higher level than we ever have throughout the summer. Our guys are very well conditioned. Our guys are very prepared to handle the elements that the first game will bring,” Dimel said.