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UTEP Football Preps For First Road Game Against UNLV.

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UTEP Athletics

UTEP is facing former Western Athletic Conference member UNLV for the eighth time and for the first time since the 1993 season. The game will take place Saturday, Sept 8 at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV. Kick off starts at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT.

The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

The Miners are coming off a 30-10, season-opening loss to Northern Arizona on Sept. 1 in the Sun Bowl. Their last road victory came on Oct. 22, 2016, at UTSA, 52-49 in five overtimes.

UNLV kicked off the 2018 campaign with a 43-21 setback at No. 15 USC on Sept. 1. UTEP was 0-7 away from home last season and is looking to snap a nine-game road losing skid dating back to the 2016 campaign.

THE OPPONENT

The Rebels were 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the Mountain West Conference (third place in the West Division) in 2017. UNLV returned 48 letter winners and 16 starters (seven offense/seven defense/two kickers).

NM State alum Tony Sanchez is in his fourth season as head coach and has posted a 12-24 record.

UNLV’s starting signal-caller, sophomore Armani Rogers, was the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2017. He was one of just five players in the nation to average at least 140 yards passing and 75 yards rushing a year ago.

Senior RB Lexington Thomas heads up the ground game. He posted 1,336 rushing yards last season, the fourth-top total in the Rebel record book.

UNLV players on preseason watch lists include Rogers (Maxwell Award), Thomas (Doak Walker Award/Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award), senior PK Evan Pantels (Lou Groza Award) and junior OL Justin Polu (Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award).

The Rebels were within striking distance heading to the fourth quarter at USC, trailing 19-14, before the Trojans outscored them 24-7 over the final 15 minutes. All four of the Trojans’ touchdown drives were under two and a half minutes. The two teams combined for 906 yards of offense (501 USC, 405 UNLV). JT Daniels completed 22-of-35 passes for 282 yards for the Trojans, and Aca’Cedric Ware rushed for 100 yards on only 10 carries. Rogers finished 12-for-27 passing for 97 yards and a pair of scores for the Rebels. Thomas gained 136 yards on 14 carries and Rogers chipped in with 82 yards rushing for UNLV, which picked up 308 yards on the ground.

THE SERIES

The Miners are 2-5 all-time versus UNLV (2-1 home, 0-4 away). UTEP and UNLV were joint members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1996-98, but were in separate divisions and did not face one another during that time.

The first meeting between the Miners and the Rebels came on Nov. 18, 1978, a 27-0 setback in Vegas. The teams squared off once annually from 1978-82. The series was renewed 10 years later (Sept. 12, 1992) with the Rebels’ 19-17 triumph at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl. UTEP won the last meeting between the teams, 41-24, on Sept. 11, 1993, in the Sun Bowl. Incidentally, that was the Miners’ lone victory in a 1-11 season as they finished off the campaign with a 10-game losing streak.

UTEP’s Dana Dimel is 2-1 as a head coach against UNLV. His Wyoming Cowboys defeated the Rebels during the 1997 (35-23) and 1998 (28-25 OT) seasons, and dropped a 35-32 decision to UNLV during the 1999 campaign.