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It's homecoming week at UTEP. I hate to say the cliche, but for UTEP this is a must win.

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP faces Old Dominion this week in a Miner Homecoming affair. Not only will the Miners sport a nice throwback helmet they'll look to erase memories of an embarrassing loss last week at the hands the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech.

Old Dominion Head Coach Bobby Wilder's initial take on UTEP


They’re 2-3 football team right now, 0-1 in the league. Sean Kugler is their head coach. He’s an outstanding football coach with an offensive linemen mentality. One thing you can expect from this team is they run the ball well, which they do. They’re very good in the run game. This is his second year as head coach and I think that he’s doing and outstanding job with their program.

On playing in the Sun Bowl

Our biggest challenge this week, besides UTEP, will be the travel. This will be the longest trip of the year, and the fact that it’s their homecoming game. We anticipate they will have about 40,000 people for the game.

On UTEP's Offense

Offensively, they average 26 points per game. As I mentioned, they run the ball very well, they go for about 220 a game. Aaron Jones is an outstanding back, he goes for about 130 a game. I think he’s one of the best backs in the league. Then Jameil Showers, their quarterback, he can throw it and he can run it. He does a very good job with the football.

On UTEP's Defense

Defensively, they’re allowing 38 points a game 460 yards, and the majority of that has really come in the last two weeks. They gave up 58 points to and outstanding Kansas State team, and they gave up 55 points on Saturday night to Louisiana Tech. Both those games, I should add, were on the road.

On how big this matchup is for ODU

They are a much better team at home. They’ve only played two home games but they’re 1-1 at home, and their loss was a very close loss to Texas Tech in the second game of the year. So, what I’ve told our players, is this will be the game of the year for us. An absolutely pivotal football game, we need to get the win, get to 4-3 and 2-2 at the break. A much needed break coming up next week where we will get rested and get healthy. I told our guys we need to put as much planning and preparation into this game as we have for any game all year because it’s going to be critical that we get this win.

I started talking to them in the locker room about how critical this UTEP game is, and getting the four wins going into the bye. That puts us in the position where if we get this one and we get two more after the bye, that will put us in the conversation for bowl games, which was our goal this year. To go into November with the opportunity talking about getting bowl eligible.