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The Dig: The All UTEP Miners vs. Houston Cougars Edition

In The DigIt's an all UTEP and Houston Dig as today is a gamenight at the Sun Bowl. Nick Lamaison is set to return tonight and Russell Carr says these teams just don't like each other.  Case Keenum is back to face the Miners for the 5th time.  Insert age joke here. 

He's Baaaaack:   UTEP QB Nick Lamaison will be back on the field tonight.  But Carson Meger is still getting plenty of reps at QB in practice.

Before a media interview at Tuesday's practice, Lamaison directly asked coach Mike Price what to say his status was, prompting Price to chuckle and tell Lamaison to be truthful. Lamaison said he's ready to play. Backup Carson Meger, however, has been getting more practice time than the backup usually does. Price has indicated there are certain plays in the game plan for Meger and others for Lamaison, and both could play.

Will there be a Sixth?  This is the 5th time UTEP will take on Case Keenum.  Is Keenum a doctor yet?  Russell Carr has a nice quote here on the UTEP-UH rivalry.

"Houston is at the top of our conference rivals. We can't stand Houston, they can't stand us," senior wide receiver Russell Carr said.

Crash and Burn:  Fox Sports Houston has a nice story on the 2009 UTEP upset over then #12 Houston. 

The Crash was Oct. 3, 2009. The ship was carrying 20 years of disappointment, and it was headed to outer space to dump it far, far away from the launch site in Houston. The crash site was El Paso, Texas. This was where No. 12 Houston, fresh off back-to-back victories over No. 5 Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and with nothing but Conference USA in front of it, was back in the conversation. The big conversation. The Conversation.

Asalom Makes a Cameo:  SBNation Houston's Dustin Rensink got some good insight on the Miners from Asalom.  Rensink knows that regardless of where these teams end up in the standings, UTEP and Houston always seem to play each other tough.

I mean this with the utmost respect for the Texas-El Paso Miners, their fans, their coaches, and their players: UTEP is a huge pest. From 2006 to 2009, the Miner football program won 5, 4, 5 and 4 games a year, respectively. The Cougars won 10, 8, 8 and 10. And yet when the two teams squared off during that period, the Cougars needed to rally from double-digit deficits for wins in three straight years, and the fourth year, the Miners spanked the #12 Cougars by 17 points.


Home Field Advantage:  The Miners have beat Houston four of five times at the Sun Bowl.

Special, Special TeamsThe Chronicle's Sam Khan, Jr. has a nice blog post up on UTEP's special teams and how the Miners have used fakes multiple times this season.

As coaches, players and fans know, those types of plays can be big momentum changers. For instance, in UTEP’s win against New Mexico State, the Miners succeeded on a fake punt. Late in the third quarter, with UTEP trailing 10-6 and facing a 4th-and-7 at its own 29, Price and UTEP special teams coordinator Jeff Banks called for a fake punt. Running back Joe Banyard took a snap and ran 60 yards, setting up the eventual go-ahead touchdown. UTEP eventually hung on to win 16-10.

Battling the Home Squad:  The UTEP Miners have 15 players on the roster from the greater Houston area.

The Glue Guy:  UH wide receiver Justin Johnson is having a breakout season.  Nice profile of him here.

Random Hoops Note:  UH, like UTEP, has seen a recent uptick in the quality of their recruiting classes in hoops.  The Coogs recently got a commitment from 6'10 center Valentine Izundu. 


It's Gameday.  The game will be televised on the CBS College Sports Network.  Go Miners!