UTEP turns page to No. 16 UTSA in C-USA West Division showdown

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — UTEP’s 3-point loss to Florida Atlantic last weekend was less than ideal, but don’t expect the Miners to dwell on it. In fact, UTEP (6-2, 3-1) has already turned the page to their pivotal Conference USA West Division showdown against No. 16 UTSA (8-0. 4-0) on Saturday at Sun Bowl Stadium.

“What I told the guys after the game [at FAU] in locker room is that the loss does not make this game [against UTSA] less important — it makes it more important,” said UTEP head football coach Dana Dimel. “If we want a chance to contend for a conference championship, this game becomes really important for us to do that. The challenge is there with them being an undefeated team. They played extremely well all season. They’ve been very consistent with what they’ve done and they’re playing really good football with what they’ve done.”

The loss against FAU didn’t sit well with UTEP, and the consensus from the team following their first practice of the week on Monday was that they still have something to prove to the college football world.

“We’re coming into this week with a major chip on our shoulder,” said junior running back Ronald Awatt. “After that [FAU] game, we got people saying, ‘UTEP isn’t all that,’ and we have one of the best teams in the nation coming in. We have to take that next step. We have to learn from the mistakes we made in the last game.”

Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN2 and the Miners are expecting their biggest crowd of the season. UTEP last hosted a ranked team in 2012 when No. 4 Oklahoma came to town. The Miners last defeated a ranked opponent at home in 2009 when they beat No. 12 Houston at Sun Bowl Stadium.

“This is a fun game for us, but it’s a big challenge,” said sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison. “We’re definitely excited for it, and hopefully we get as many people in there as we can for this game. We want to make sure it’s loud. It’s an exciting challenge for us, but I think we’ll be ready.”

Kickoff at the Sun Bowl is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. MT.

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