EL PASO, Texas – UTEP will face its second consecutive Power Five opponent when the Miners travel to Tucson to take on Arizona and former UTEP wide receiver Jacob Cowing on Saturday night.

UTEP and Arizona are playing for the first time since the 2017 season, while the former Border Conference and Western Athletic Conference foes will meet for the 53rd time.

UTEP (1-2) is coming off a 38-7 loss at Northwestern on Sept. 9. The Wildcats outscored the Miners 31-0 in the second half after going into the halftime tied 7-7. Tyrice Knight, the nations’ leading tackler, racked up 14 more tackles including 11 solo stops and a half sack.

Offensively, Jeremiah Ballard was the highlight as he tallied a career-best 92 yards on four receptions, while Zach Fryar snagged his first career touchdown on a four-yard leaping catch in the end zone. McKel Broussard added a career-high seven tackles, while Josiah Allen tallied his first career sack (half sack with Knight).

Maurice Westmoreland recorded his first career sack along with a pass breakup. Gavin Hardison struggled in the second half. After starting the day 7-of-8 with a touchdown pass, finishing 17-of-25 for 192 yards and two interceptions.

Knight, following his performance at NU, was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11, his first career weekly award.

Arizona (1-1) is coming off a 31-24 overtime loss at Mississippi State on Sept. 9. The Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 10-3 in the fourth quarter to push the extra period. UA QB Jayden de Laura threw for 342 yards on 32-of-46 passing with two touchdown tosses but four interceptions.

Former Miner Jacob Cowing caught seven balls for 31 yards including a 17-yard TD in the third quarter after being down 21-7. Cowing added three yards on a rush attempt and completed a pass for -2 yards. Arizona opened the ’23 season on Sept. 2 with a victory over NAU, 38-3. De Laura passed for 285 yards and three scores, including a four-yard TD toss to Cowing for the Wildcats’ first points of the season.

Overall, de Laura has thrown for 627 yards, ranking 13th in FBS. He ranks eighth in passing yards per game (313.5). Arizona’s passing offense ranks 17th nationally, while its redzone defense ranks ninth in FBS.

“Arizona is our biggest test of the year and for one reason alone is that they’re a very, very, very talented team. Start with their offensive line, a big physical athletic offensive line. (They have) a really deep backfield with running backs, good tight ends and then some good size at wide receiver. Then obviously they got Jacob (Cowing), who’s just a tremendous player for them,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “So, they got really a group of very, very talented receivers and a quarterback that’s very athletic and makes a lot of plays. So offensively, they’re a big, big test for us and they’re very versatile with what they do offensively. Defensively they’ve gotten a lot better. They’ve recruited well, they’ve got more talented defensive players on their team now. They’re very deep up front. They got some solid depth at linebacker, and they’re very deep in the secondary. So, they have the size and the speed on defense. I think they’re much improved this year defensively from what they were last season with the things they’re doing, as everybody expected them to be. They’re going to be a tough test force for sure, as we try to attack them offensively and then try to stop them defensively.”

The Miners and Wildcats are set to kick off at 9:00 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Network while the game will be broadcasted on 95.5 KLAQ.