Mostly, it was just cold for Mike Price and the UTEP Miners. Cold north wind, cold-blooded opponent, cold shoulder from the fans.

Listed attendance at the Sun Bowl for UTEP's 31-24 loss to Central Florida was 25,483. Apparently, ticket-takers were counting shoes. Twice.

For as much hope as Mike Price had brought this stadium and this program nine seasons ago, it is sad to see both the program and the city playing out the string.

That's what this is. What it's been for everyone since it was announced Price would be back for the final year of his contract. UTEP playing out the string with no stud quarterback and three non-conference games to start the season against BCS conference heavies. Coupled with the Miners history of late-season problems and it makes you wonder: what was expected from this team?

In turn, the city has played out the string by spending its money elsewhere. The result is the picture of the stadium you see above.

It was said in this space before the season started that 2012 had the potential to be Price's worst season at UTEP. The Miners have two games left to keep that from happening, but would have to win both.

Price has never earned fewer than four wins in a season, but with that offense and with that schedule, 2012 could be downright Nordian.

We know UTEP has a defense that can help prevent that, but the question mark all season has been the Miners' offense. No home run hitter behind center. No big plays.

Interestingly, a deliberately conservative game plan gave the Miners a real chance at an upset Saturday night. Getting his first start at QB, Blaire Sullivan was told to tuck and run rather than force risky passes.

UTEP came back to tie the game, 24-24, before UCF won it with a late touchdown.

What does that all mean? Nothing more than a 2-8 record and maybe an even colder reception from fans against Rice in two weeks.