A win, and your in.
A loss and well....
you're probably in a bowl game too , with Marshall losing a win now may be needed to go bowling.
Though to me 7-5 means way more than 6-6 when you look at what this UTEP Football team has gone through the past three calender years.
At the beginning of this year, most figured (raises hand) we would be full circle into an early basketball season right around this time of the calendar waiting for February signing day to see what Sean Kugler does and who he brings in next to keep building the program.
But for the past couple of months we have seen exactly how Kugler is building this thing: accountability that builds chemistry and leadership, hard work, crisp practices, and an embrace of a different culture that has never been seen around these parts.
For UTEP to "arrive" as a football contender in the conference, a win against a respectable and consistent winner in Middle Tennessee is a must for the continued growth of the program, and now for UTEP's 2014 bowl hopes.
Middle hasn't been as dominate as they have been in recent memory on defense, though T.T. Barber and Kevin Byard are NFL prospects who can effect a game in so many ways and as a unit they still have forced 13 turnovers in 11 games this year.
A win Saturday, and not only will UTEP cruise into Albuquerque sporting a 7-5 record with added momentum from what I feel will be a classic C-USA clash between MT and UTEP, but also the Miners will win a November home game against a team built to win in November.
A win Saturday and Sean Kugler will have even more recruits excited about coming to UTEP, a win Saturday further solidifies the defensive renaissance as a turned into program identity, a win Saturday and UTEP football will back on the minds of fair weather El Pasoans (a little late).
Most of the defense is young and will return outside of a few productive parts, and a win will do so much mentally for the guys red /gray or grey shirting who are waiting in the wings and have been working scout team on both sides of the ball this year.
Its hasn't been about a quick fix to band-aid a 2-10 season from a year ago, its about making the current situation UTEP is in the norm with a golden goal of always shooting to being a-top the conference a main part of the UTEP football culture.
It won't be easy trying to slow down one of the more efficient, and explosive offensive attacks in the conference and even possibly the country, but for a win, the following must happen.
***Contain Running back Reggie Whatley and keep him out of the second level..
***Force Austin Grammer to beat you with his legs.
***Six instead of three, execute red-zone chances on offense.
***Don't let giving up long balls in the secondary be an issue again.
***Sound special teams play across the board on every unit, MT has blocked four kicks this season.
***Utilize Aaron Jones in the pass game on early downs.
***Be the more physical team, and get a momentum changing hit early on defense..
Middle Tennessee has won their last six games decided in the final minute or overtime, I see this one going down that same route of being decided in the final minute or possession.
The Blue Raiders have ridiculous red-zone efficiency numbers this season converting 36 of 42 trips with 28 touchdowns, though have been proven to be turnover prone.
UTEP will have to put together the best offensive game plan of the year to keep the ball in their hands against an ball hawking defense that thrives off turning you over.
Main thing for UTEP: keep composure because MT will get theirs, though the Miners have to keep playing together, and for each other that helps keep the energy up on the sidelines that flows into the stands.
This game comes down to more than stats, game planning, and analysis, both teams will be tested in the simple area of......who wants it more. 7-5 or 6-6?
Prediction. Middle Tennessee 42 UTEP 38