EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – After a much-needed bye week, it’s now go-time for Dana Dimel and UTEP.
If the Miners want to accomplish their preseason goal of getting bowl eligible for the second year in a row, there’s still a lot of work to be done. UTEP will welcome Florida Atlantic to the Sun Bowl on Saturday to begin that process, sitting at 3-4, 1-2 in Conference USA with five games left.
That means that in order to reach the six wins needed to achieve bowl eligibility, the Miners will have to win three of their final final games. Dimel said he likes how the schedule stacks up for them: three home games, another bye week and two short road trips to Rice and UTSA in the season’s final six weeks.
The miners have been very inconsistent this season, but with the bowl game goal on the table, expect them to come out firing, even if Dimel says he won’t mention it to his team.
“Is it there? Yes. I mean, obviously, it would be a really neat accomplishment for us to be able to do that in back-to-back years, but we can’t do that until we win this one,” said Dimel. “We can’t start thinking about it. So that’s really important. It’s there for us if we can just play good football down the stretch.”
UTEP has not been to a bowl in back-to-back seasons since 2004 and 2005 under Mike Price. They’ll enter Saturday’s game vs. FAU (3-4, 2-1 C-USA) as four-point underdogs and face an Owls rushing attack that ranks third in the league.
“Florida Atlantic definitely is a team that’s got lots of physical talent. They’ve got good size up front on their offensive line,” Dimel said. “They got two really talented running backs, a good group of wide receivers and a quarterback (N’Kosi Perry) that’s very athletic and is really improved as a quarterback throughout his last two years.”
The Miners know what’s on the table for them if they can get three victories over the next six weeks. It all starts Saturday vs. the Owls, a game that seems to be very winnable at home for UTEP.
“There’s no cushion to lose anymore, I think we have to win out and that has to be mindset,” said UTEP senior wide receiver Rey Flores. “No excuses, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be winning out. So that’s the mindset.”
FAU and UTEP will kick off at the Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. MT Saturday on ESPN+