Rocky Road: The UTEP Miners 2011 Football Schedule

CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Skip Holtz stands with MVP B.J. Daniels #7 of the USF Bulls after a 31-26 victory over the Clemson Tigers. USF replaces Arkansas as UTEP's BCS conference foe in 2011. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

UTEP has released their 2011 football schedule and at first glance the slate looks to be far more difficult than the Miners somewhat flimsy 2010 slate.  The major difference is that the bottom of the C-USA East division (Marshall, Memphis, and UAB) have been replaced with three East powers that I expect will all be favored to beat the Miners.   The schedule now includes East Carolina, Southern Miss, and a season ending trek to Orlando against the defending league champions Central Florida.(Full schedule after the jump here).  UTEP will play six teams that played in bowl games last season.

The schedule fits the mold that Bob Stull has stated he wants for UTEP football schedules.  Stull likes to play one BCS conference school, one FCS squad, an FBS school outside the BCS, and New Mexico State.  The Miners meet that criteria with a road trip to South Florida, an opening night game against Stony Brook (FCS), and a late October matchup against the Mountain West's Colorado State.   The Battle of 1-10 is set for September 17, 2011.

A few things jump out to me right away.  First of all, UTEP travels to SMU on September 2, an early week 2 matchup.  That spot was filled with the Houston game this season that was featured on ESPN2.  Hopefully, this game has been moved up for television purposes like the UH game was.

Also, I'm relieved to see that UTEP will have a bye week next year in Week 6.  Last year, the Miners never had an open date and as we all know, the team could have used a week off to help rehab mounting injuries during the middle of the season.

Just like last year, UTEP will close the season with a treacherous slate.  UTEP will host East Carolina, Tulsa, and travel to C-USA Champion UCF to close the season.  Ending the season on senior night in Orlando is about as tough as it gets in the C-USA.

Here's the Full Slate:

Date Opponent

9/3/2011

vs. Stony Brook (FCS)

9/10/2011

at SMU Mustangs

9/17/2011

at NMSU Aggies

9/24/2011

at South Florida Bulls

10/1/2011

vs. Houston Cougars

10/8/2011

OPEN DATE

10/15/2011

at Tulane Green Wave

10/22/2011

Colorado St. Rams

10/29/2011

Southern Miss. Golden Eagles

11/5/2011

at Rice Owls

11/12/2011

East Carolina Pirates

11/19/2011

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

11/26/2011

at Central Florida Knights

 

This schedule is far more difficult than what we saw in 2010.  UTEP's final two opponents both ended the 2010 season ranked in the AP Poll (Tulsa #24, UCF #21) and both return plenty of stars.  G.J.  Kinne is back.  So is budding superstar Jeff Godfrey. 

Last year, Memphis finished the season #1 in the ESPN Bottom 10.  New Mexico finished #4.  UTEP won't play either in 2011.  Colorado State isn't great, they were 3-9 last year, but the Rams are definitely better than New Mexico.  They beat the Lobos 38-14 last season.   

I'm not going to guess as to how many wins UTEP will have next year.  The truth is that we have no idea how good this team will be until we see what Nick Lamaison looks like in the spring.

Thoughts?

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