The 2022 UTEP football schedule was announced on Tuesday—well, at least the first draft.

On paper, the schedule features balance (six home games, six away) and a bit of uncertainty. The Miners have a tougher slate ahead compared to the 2021 season in which they finished 7-6 and made a trip to the PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl. Now entering the fifth year of Dana Dimel's tenure in El Paso, the team has high hopes to build off the momentum from last year.

The Miners are set to return most of their starting talent from last year: seven returning starters on offense and seven on defense, along with both kickers.

“Our early schedule is very challenging, but one our fans should like as we play two Mountain West opponents and two rivalry games, and obviously the opener at Oklahoma should be an exciting showcase for our program,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said in a statement. “I like the way the conference schedule is set up, having an open week following our trip to Old Dominion. I think that works out well for us. The challenge for us this season is going to be becoming a good road team after going 7-1 at home over the last two years.”

2022 UTEP Football Schedule

  • Sept 3                         at Oklahoma
  • Sept. 10                     NM State
  • Sept. 17                     at New Mexico
  • Sept. 24                     Boise State
  • Oct. 1                         at LA Tech*
  • Oct. 8                         Florida Atlantic*
  • Oct. 15                       Southern Miss*
  • Oct. 22                       at Old Dominion*
  • Nov. 5                         at Rice*
  • Nov. 12                      UAB*
  • Nov. 19                      at UTSA*
  • Nov. 26                      North Texas*

 * Conference USA game

All dates subject to change

Home games in bold

Who is staying/who is leaving C-USA? 

As Steve wrote about today, C-USA is in a bit of a holding pattern with some of its league members after Southern Miss, Old Dominion and Marshall each announced their intentions to leave the league for the Sun Belt following this academic year.

However, C-USA released its full schedule with the three schools included. The Miners have two of the potential departing members—Southern Miss (Oct. 15) and Old Dominion (Oct. 22)—on their current schedule. There is no clear indication if the conference is working toward a resolution as we speak.

For now, the "official" schedule release still feels like a rough draft when you consider league play.

Non-conference play features familiar faces  

Oklahoma, NM State, New Mexico and Boise State. Those are the four teams that the Miners will face in non-conference play this year.

Interestingly enough, UTEP faced Oklahoma for Lincoln Riley's first game as the head coach (2017, 56-7), and this year it's Brent Venables' debut for the Sooners on Sept. 3. OU finished with an 11-2 record last year and a top-10 finish, but they lost a ton of talent to the transfer portal during the coaching change.

NM State will also have a new head coach in Jerry Kill, who is looking to bring the Aggies back to winning ways. The Battle of I-10 (Sept. 10) will be the 99th edition of the rivalry game. Since the two teams didn't play in 2020 due to the pandemic, this year's game will be the first time they meet at the Sun Bowl since Aggies beat the Miners, 44-35, in 2018.

This will also mark the 80th matchup between UTEP and New Mexico when the two schools face each other on Sept. 17.

Boise State comes into town to close out the non-conference slate. The Miners fell apart in their 54-13 loss to the Broncos last year, and the team wants to have revenge. This will be the first time Boise State comes to El Paso since the two were conference mates in the WAC. Boise State beat UTEP 47-31 in the last meeting at the Sun Bowl on Sept. 18, 2004.

Conference USA could be a grind 

Following the non-conference schedule, UTEP will go through a much tougher conference slate than 2021. Last year, the Miners had home games against Old Dominion, LA Tech, UTSA and Rice, winning three of the four league games at home. The only team in the league they beat on the road was Southern Miss last season.

This year isn't as favorable.

October features winnable games against LA Tech, which is also under a first-year head coach, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss. Then, things get challenging once UTEP heads to Old Dominion on Oct. 22. Following their road contest against the Monarchs, they will have to play at Rice and at UTSA, with November home games against UAB and North Texas. Those are five games that will be a tough stretch for UTEP to stack together wins.

As exciting as 2021 was for Miner fans, the team went 1-3 in November after starting the season 6-2. Finishing on a high note has to be a goal for this program that hasn't won a bowl game since 1967.

For now, the Miners will turn their focus to Spring Ball, which starts on Tuesday, March 1, and ends with the annual Spring Ball game on Friday, April 8.

Way-too-early prediction: (7-5)

Wins: NM State, New Mexico, LA Tech, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Rice & North Texas

Losses: Oklahoma, Boise State, Old Dominion, UAB & UTSA

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