UTEP’s Victory Over UNT Ensures Their Bowl Eligibility
Another stunning rushing and defensive performance ensured bowl eligibility for the UTEP Miners as they got their sixth win of the season with an impressive 35-17 victory over North Texas.
The Miners who have now won four of their past five games dominated the game on the ground as Nathan Jeffery scored three first half touchdowns and Aaron Jones gained a whopping 177 yards on just 16 carries with two touchdowns as well. Overall UTEP finished the game with a total of 351 rushing yards, which is a season best and the most they have accumulated in a contest since 1983 against Weber State.
Aaron Jones now has 1,063 in just nine games this season, making him just the ninth player in UTEP's history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. The last running back to do so was Donald Buckram in 2009 when he accumulated 1,594 rushing yards. This feat was accomplished by Jones despite sitting out last week's 35-27 loss at Western Kentucky.
The Miners had another stellar defensive performance as they yielded just 201 yards to North Texas, their second fewest allowed this season. Jimmy Musgrave led the team with nine tackles. The Miners only have two games left this season, both which are quite winnable, making an eight win season a realistic possibility. A lot of credit should go to Coach Kugler as his team became bowl eligible for the first time since 2010 when they went to the New Mexico Bowl.
Kugler has turned this team around completely in only his second season at the helm. Last season's two wins are a distant memory at this point, Coach Kugler isn't satisfied with six wins and bowl eligibility, he wants his team to focus on winning the remainder of their games this season. The Miners will travel to Houston to take on Rice next Friday.
The announced attendance was 24,222 which was pathetic to watch a team that is entertaining, motivated, and dedicated to their fan base. It's too bad the fans aren't as dedicated as their team is. El Paso sports fans always claim that they will attend games if they have a winner to support, obviously that is all smoke and mirrors.
Yes it's true the game was nationally televised, and began at 8:00. It was even a little chilly, but all of those excuses are just that, excuses, and don't fly as far as I'm concerned. I guess the three for one $8 ticket combo that the team offered to watch all three teams play on Friday and Saturday, combined with the university honoring 23 of their greatest players in men's and women's basketball and football wasn't good enough to get 40,000 fans to attend the game.
Here is the complete post game press conference with Coach Kugler.