UTEP’s Historic Chance: Will Miners Get First Power 5 Victory?
When I saw the line for Saturday's UTEP road game against Northwestern, I had to do a double take. The Miners were listed as 1.5 point favorites against the Wildcats. Let me repeat that in case you were as stunned as I was. UTEP is currently FAVORED by one and a half points over Northwestern.
Originally, this game opened up with the Wildcats favored by a field goal. Once Northwestern kicked off its season opener at Rutgers and lost their 12th straight game after an offseason full of turmoil, the betting line dropped four and a half points to where it currently is now.
It is important to point out that UTEP has historically struggled on the road, and the team has not yet turned the corner away from the Sun Bowl in recent seasons. In fact, the Miners have won just four times on the road and lost 15 games since the start of the 2020 season. Most of those losses have not been blow outs; in fact, the team has been competitive the last few seasons but they do not have many road wins to show for their efforts. All of that could change Saturday afternoon in Evanston, Illinois.
In case you are not aware of this incredible statistic, the UTEP football program has never defeated a Power 5 opponent since the term became en vogue more than 20 years ago. The Miners came close a couple of times during the Mike Price era against Texas Tech and even Oklahoma, but the Miners are still in search of their first win against a P5 school. Head coach Dana Dimel will never have a better opportunity to end this winless streak than he will on Saturday.
Before the season started, Phil Steele projected Rutgers to finish 11th and Northwestern 12th in the Big 10. The Wildcats totaled only 201 yards of total offense against the Scarlet Knights last weekend, and they also turned the ball over twice. Northwestern's defense did play well, limiting Rutgers to just 285 yards of total offense on 73 plays despite being on the field for over 37 minutes in that game.
Last season, the Miners won their first signature game of the Dimel era when they dominated Boise State 27-10 at the Sun Bowl. The following week, they were victorious for the first time ever in the Eastern time zone when they knocked off Charlotte 41-35. That was also their only road win of the season. Will UTEP finally get their first ever Power 5 dub or will Northwestern break their 12 game losing streak?