The UTEP Miners head into Tulsa tonight to take on the best team in Conference USA in the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The Miners are fresh off a 17-0 home loss to SMU on Saturday, while the Hurricane enter off a big time road win, 45-38 at Marshall.
The Miners are now 1-5 overall and 0-2 in conference this season, and seem to be headed in the wrong direction. They opened up the year with some good efforts against solid competition, but seem to have things stuck in reverse after disappointing performances against both ECU and SMU to open conference play.
The Hurricane enter at 5-1 overall and 3-0 in Conference USA play. They started off the season with a bit of a poor effort at Iowa State, in a game that they were perhaps supposed to win, but have taken off from there. They've since reeled off 5 straight wins, including a pair of C-USA road wins over the last two weeks.
Coming into the season, many Miner fans had this game scheduled as one that could propel UTEP to a potential run at the conference championship. However, considering where they are at this point, they would do extremely well to even make a run at a bowl birth.
If they are going to, it will have to start tonight. UTEP coach Mike Price is one who certainly believes that this season is still salvageable. With half the season over, and still 5 wins needed to reach a bowl, they can't afford to give any more away.
There's no question that the Miners are talented enough to hang with anyone in Conference USA. The defense has played lights out, game in and game out, and there are certainly play makers at multiple skill positions on the offense, but quarterback play has been a huge issue.
More than that, game planning, schemes, and play calling seem to be an even bigger issue. If the Miners are unable to get those things corrected, and in a hurry, this season could really turn ugly. This team is better than their record shows, but unfortunately even they haven't been showing it of late. Let's hope that changes tonight.
No matter what. Picks Up and Go Miners!