Well, here we are in the final week of the 2010 regular season. Although the Miners haven't exactly to lived up to the hopes of many fans, they are 6-5 (3-4) and are bowl eligible.
If the Miners do happen to win at Tulsa they would likely climb into 5th place in C-USA behind UCF, ECU, S. Miss, and the winner of the West. The 5th place team would probably be invited to the R + L Carriers Bowl as ESPN has been predicting, or even possibly the Hawaii Bowl. However, there are going to be a lot of issues if UTEP can't pull off the win in Tulsa.
I think everyone saw the hit that Trevor Vittatoe took in the 3rd quarter of that Arkansas game. His ankle was rolled up so bad, it's a miracle it wasn't broken. It speaks to what Mike Price says in that Trevor is the toughest QB he has ever coached. From what I am hearing it is almost certain that Trevor will not be able to start Saturday, but could be available for a bowl game if we make it. If Trevor is unable to go vs. the Hurricane, we're in a pretty tough position. Tulsa averages nearly 40 points a game, and I just can't see the Miners putting up those numbers without Trevor in the lineup.
A loss at Tulsa would leave the Miners at 6-6, 3-5 in conference, and put them in 7th place in conference at least until the rest of the schools wrap up their schedules. Again, the conference only has 6 tie ins so bowl eligible in 7th place isn't exactly ideal. As mentioned in the previous post, if UTEP were to make a bowl in this situation it will likely be due to the fact that the WAC would not qualify enough teams for bowls. Its looking as though the WAC will only have 4 bowl eligible teams. Boise St. would vacate one of the WAC's tie ins by accepting an invitation to a BCS bowl leaving one of the WAC's tie ins searching for a replacement. The two bowls that could be looking for a spot to fill could be the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, ID vs. a MAC team, or the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, NM vs. a MWC team.
There still are other possibilities though. Something else mentioned in the previous post was that if Tulane, UAB, or Marshall won out, they would bump UTEP down a spot. UAB has now been eliminated from Bowl contention after losing to ECU, but Tulane and Marshall both won their games and improved to 4-6 overall. These teams are still alive and could become a threat for UTEP. If either win out UTEP could very well find themselves left out of reaching a bowl. The two teams play each other in the final game of the season.
On the flip side, UTEP could potentially still slide up to 5th in the standings even if they lose at Tulsa. Its beginning to look more and more as if Houston might miss out on a bowl. They have two tough games remaining at Southern Miss, and at Texas Tech. If the Cougars drop both games they would not reach the 6 win plateau and thus would not be bowl eligible. SMU is in the same boat. They currently hold the lead in C-USA West with a head2head tiebreaker over Tulsa, but could also miss out on a bowl by dropping their last two games. They host Marshall, who has won three straight, before going on the road to finish at East Carolina. Losing both games would also prevent the Mustangs from getting to the 6 win mark.
The last possibility that I'd like to mention is that UTEP could still potentially win C-USA. After everything that has happened the Miners are still alive. Of course, its an extremely long shot but last week everything went according to plan. The same has to happen over the next two weeks. In order for this to happen, both Houston and SMU would have to lose their two remaining games. UTEP would have to come up with the win at Tulsa, and Tulsa would have to drop its season ender at home against Southern Miss. This would leave Houston and SMU at 5-7, while UTEP and Tulsa would both be tied at 7-5, 4-4 in conference. By virtue of the head2head win over Tulsa the Miners would win the West and play the winner of the East for the chance to play in the Liberty Bowl.
The question today is will we reach a bowl game this year? Saturday we have the ability to answer that question for ourselves. It was a tough week as we saw a number players get injured vs. Arkansas. Namely, Trevor Vittatoe. Hopefully we can be back to full health for Saturday's finale, but either way we have to play smart, aggressive, and like we want it. We can definitely beat Tulsa, its just a matter of execution. On both sides of the ball. So, execute on Saturday and the question will no longer be will we go, but where we'll go?