EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — UTEP has an opportunity to do something they have not done in a decade: start the season 2-0 at home.
The Miners (1-1) return home this week after a 56-point beatdown at the hands of the Texas Longhorns last week. UTEP will host their second FCS opponent this season in the Abilene Christian (ACU) Wildcats on Saturday at Sun Bowl Stadium.
For the third week in-a-row, the Miners will face a team playing their first game of the season.
“Anytime you come out 2-1 in a season, it just gets it started on such a great note,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “For us to come out of the gate and play good football this weekend and come out with a win would be huge. We’d be 2-1 and now we have a chance to go to UL Monroe and see if we can get a victory there. It’s gigantic for us right now.”
The Miners are without senior running back Quardraiz Wadley and senior fullback Forest McKee for the remainder of the season. They could also be without redshirt freshman running back Deion Hankins on Saturday, who suffered a leg injury at practice on Tuesday. Hanks, UTEP’s leading rusher this season, is considered a, “game-time decision.”
Typically, UTEP likes to setup the pass with the run, but we might see that in reverse against ACU. Sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison has shown glimpses in the Miners’ first two games of the season and Dimel hopes to see the progression continue on Saturday.
“They are young in the secondary,” said Dimel. “Obviously that’s a concern for them because they are new in the secondary and that has to be a concern for them. It’s going to be important for us to throw the ball well in this ball game. I think that’s going to be a big part of our gameplan, to answer that without revaling too much, but we want to be really good at throwing the ball in this ball game.”
Kickoff is set for 7:05 p.m. MT on Saturday at the Sun Bowl. The game will be streamed on ESPN3.
UTEP (1-1) vs. ACU (0-0)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 19
Time: 7 p.m. MT
Location: El Paso, Texas
Venue: Sun Bowl Stadium
Twitter Updates: @UTEPFB
Radio: ESPN 600 El Paso
UTEP vs. ACU ALL-TIME
- On Saturday, UTEP and Abilene Christian will meet on the gridiron for the sixth time in history in a series that dates back to 1942.
- Abilene Christian holds a slight 3-2 lead over the Miners in the all-time series, but the series is dead-locked at 2-2 in games played in El Paso.
- The first meeting between the Miners and Wildcats dates back to the 1942 season when UTEP defeated ACU, 20-14, in El Paso. The last time these two teams met was in 1959 when Abilene Christian captured a 28-22 win over the Miners.
- When UTEP hosts Abilene Christian on Saturday, the Miners will be looking to post a 2-0 record at home for the first time since the 2010 season. That season, the Miners opened the campaign with a 31-10 victory over UAPB and followed up with a 42-10 win over NM State two weeks later. UTEP continued its winning ways at home that year as the Miners went on to post a 5-1 record in games played at the Sun Bowl.
- UTEP sophomore WR Jacob Cowing is currently ranked 3rd in the nation and 1st in Conference USA in receiving yards after a fast start to the 2020 season. Cowing leads the Miners with 11 catches for 165 yards in two games. The Arizona native is averaging 15.0 yards per catch and 82.5 yards per game early on this season. As for senior WR Justin Garrett, he is currently ranked 12th nationally and fourth in C-USA with 9 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging 12.2 yards per catch and 55 yards per game.
- Sophomore QB Gavin Hardison enters this week ranked 5th among FBS quarterbacks in total passing yards. Through two games, Hardison is 29-of-55 passing for 353 yards and a touchdown. His 353 passing yards in two games also ranks first among Conference USA quarterbacks. The Hobbs, N.M., native has a 52.7 completion percentage and is averaging 176.5 yards per game going into Saturday’s game versus Abilene Christian.