The cost of a new home was $24,600; a gallon of regular gas was cheaper than a dozen of eggs, both priced fewer than 49 cents. The #1 song was "To Sir With Love: by Lulu. "In the Heat of the Night" was the movie everyone was talking about around the water coolers. That sure sounds like some sweet times to live in.
However it gets better, especially if you were an El Pasoan.
Texas Western had just finished writing history without even knowing it when they defeated Kentucky for the 1966 National Championship. That same year the Texas Western football team completed their season at 6-4 under second year head coach "Bobby" Dobbs.
Those two UTEP Athletic achievements setup the historic 1967 UTEP football season. What makes it so historic you might wonder? That was the last time UTEP football beat a now called P5 team, and the last time UTEP won a bowl game.
UTEP opened the season with a 50-14 dismantling of Santa Barbara in El Paso. They took an Arizona road trip to Tucson and Tempe, returning with a one-point loss to nationally ranked Arizona St, and a tie with Arizona.
Sitting at 1-1-1 UTEP welcomed arch rival BYU into the Sun Bowl. What occurred over the remainder of the season just seems unbelievable from a modern day UTEP football standpoint.
Somehow, someway when it was all said and done the final score on the Sun Bowl scoreboard read University of Texas El Paso 47 BYU 17. That must have been a fluke or mistake right?
Well six days later UTEP traveled to Albuquerque and just humiliated the Lobos speeding back on I-25 with a 75 to 12 triumph. Las Cruces put a little more effort in their 46-24 loss the following week. Then as the good times kept rolling, the football Miners swept El Paso by storm after a 17-0 shutout over Colorado St.
Then the biggest game of the regular season had finally arrived here in the Sun Bowl.
Wyoming entered at 8-0 with a top five national ranking. Finally, someone was going to expose to the Miners for the fakes they really were. Not so fast Cowboys, the Miners put up a valiant effort in a nip and tuck battle.
UTEP almost derailed Wyoming’s dream season before dropping a two-point heart breaker. I wonder what the atmosphere looked like for that Miner Maniac packed game.
UTEP did not give up after that painful loss. They packed their coats and traveled to Utah for a post-thanksgiving game in the purity state. After defeating Utah 28-8 UTEP was assured of receiving a bowl bid for the second time in three years.
After all, we were 6-2-1 with both losses coming to nationally ranked teams by a combined score of a field goal. UTEP’s Christmas wish was fulfilled, earning ourselves the sixth home game of the year with a Sun Bowl showdown against the Mississippi Rebels.
Mississippi had a brutal schedule and really earned their spot in the Sun Bowl. With an overall record of 6-3-1, Mississippi was the favorite despite playing on the road.
This is same team that had beaten #3 Georgia 29-20, then two weeks later, they beat #9 Houston 14-13. They had suffered two losses at #9 Alabama and to #2 Tennessee, there was no doubt this was a strong SEC team heading to the 1967 Sun Bowl.
A record crowd of 34,685 watched as UTEP played their hearts out. Ole Miss took a 7-0 halftime lead courtesy of a 49-yard interception return by Mississippi that set up their first and only score.
In the second half UTEP drove the ball 76 yards to tie the game 7-7. Back on the next defensive series local El Pasoan and All American Fred Carr stripped the ball forcing a Rebel turnover at the 22-yard line. Four rushes later Larry McHenry scored from four yards out to give UTEP the 14-7 lead and final score.
Not much overall athletic success has fallen in UTEP’s hands since those glorious years. Sure, we won a game or two in the NCAA tournament and played in a few bowl games but it is not the same accomplishments of the late 60’s. Here we are 47 years later ready to write our own version of history.
Will tonight finally be the night that UTEP breaks the big game curse?