UTEP red-hot with eyes on a conference title entering bye week


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Bowl eligible for the first time in seven years and riding a four-game winning streak, UTEP (6-1, 3-0 Conference USA) is off to its best start since 2005.

The Miners will have to wait two weeks to continue their red-hot play, though; after beating Louisiana Tech 19-3 on Oct. 16, UTEP has a bye Oct. 23, before a trip to play Florida Atlantic on Oct. 30.

UTEP has to manage the bye week well; head coach Dana Dimel said after the LA Tech that he preferred to continue playing, rather than have a bye, but good things can always come from it.

“We’re running hot and it’s nice to play when you’re running hot,” said Dimel. But, we can also use this week to get better, get our young guys better, get our coaches out recruiting and really hit the recruiting trail and just continue to work on the things we need to improve.”

If UTEP manages to beat Florida Atlantic in two weeks – a win that would be the Miners’ first victory in school history in the Eastern time zone, by the way – the Miners would host No. 24 UTSA (7-0, 3-0 C-USA) at the Sun Bowl Nov. 6, with a chance to climb into the driver’s seat for a league championship.

It’s likely that UTSA will be 8-0 and have climbed even higher in the rankings by that point, making that Saturday afternoon showdown arguably the most meaningful Miners home game since 2005.

Before they get there though, they have to take care of business during their bye week, then at FAU.

“The bye week can be good and bad, so we just need to be sure that we handle it the right way and stay focused for FAU,” said quarterback Gavin Hardison.

Defensive back Walter Neil agreed and said UTEP was in a good place mentally.

“We know its a long season and we have more to prove,” Neil said. “We’ll celebrate the small victories here and there but we know the bigger picture is still to be worked on, so we’re good.”

Elsewhere on Monday, UTEP defensive end Jadrian Taylor was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week after tying a school record with 3.5 sacks vs. LA Tech. Taylor leads the team with 6.5 sacks on the season.

With two weeks to prepare for FAU, it appears to be a confident UTEP team that is just now realizing how good it could be.

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