After putting on a somewhat disappointing effort on the road against the Ole Miss Rebels, the UTEP Miners must now turn around to take on our neighbors up the road, the New Mexico State Aggies, today at 6:00 p.m. MT in the Sun Bowl.
As mentioned, the Miners enter the contest fresh off Saturday's 28-10 loss in Oxford, while the Aggies come in after being downed 51-24 at Ohio. UTEP is now 0-2 on the young season, and NMSU is 1-1, after taking out FCS opponent Sacramento State in the season opener.
The matchup marks the 90th time that the two teams have squared off, with the Miners holding a 52-35-2 advantage in the series. The last time the two team met, September 17th 2011, the Miners escaped with a 16-10 victory at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces.
This week is an absolutely crucial one for the Miners' season. No one necessarily expected them to pick up a win in either of their first two contests, but they were in the games, and were just unable to get things done on the offensive end.
Minor injuries have taken their toll on the team, but coming into the year, depth was supposed to be one of their strengths. The Miners boast a handful of capable backs, yet only one has been able to get things going thus far. And it's still unclear whether or not he'll give it a go tonight.
The defense, which looked great in the opener against Oklahoma, was stifled against the run option and misdirection of the Ole Miss offense. While they only allowed 28 points, they were rarely able to get themselves off the field.
Bottom line, its time for the Miners to put it all together. The offense should be much better than they've shown, and the defense needs to be able to make plays, and not give up the big play that have already bit them on more than a handful of occasions this season.
Of course, this game will not be easy. New Mexico State, while the not of the caliber of Oklahoma or Ole Miss, is our greatest rival and will not be a pushover. But, if the Miners' year is going to be a successful one, its time for us to put it together in all aspects of the game. If we can't, we may be in for a very long season.
Miners 38, Aggies 21.