EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Rival schools UTEP (2-5, 1-2 CUSA) and New Mexico State (4-3, 2-1 CUSA) will meet in the 100th edition of the Battle of I-10 on the football field at the Sun Bowl on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game.
Wednesday night’s game will mark the 100th time UTEP and New Mexico State will meet on the football field. Wednesday’s meeting also marks the first time in 62 years that the Miners and Aggies will clash as league foes as both programs are now part of Conference USA.
The Miners and Aggies are squaring off as conference rivals for the first time since Oct. 28, 1961, when both were members of the Border Conference.
Looking at the all-time series record, UTEP leads New Mexico State in the series with a 59-38-2 overall record.
UTEP (2-5, 1-2 Conference USA)
UTEP is coming off a 27-14 win over CUSA foe FIU last week.
The Miners were led by fourth string quarterback Cade McConnell. McConnell made his first start as a Miner under center against the Panthers. He threw for 262 yards on 11-of-17 passing, had two passing touchdowns, and committed no turnovers.
UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said last Friday that McConnell is “penciled in” to start again against NMSU, if starting quarterback Gavin Hardison isn’t healthy enough to go.
UTEP’s defense also performed well in its last game against FIU. The Miners collected its most sacks in a single game since 2001 when it ended the FIU game with a total of eight sacks. Praise Amaewhule was crowned sack king after breaking the school record during the third quarter. He finished with 2.0 sacks and now has a school-standard 21.5 in his career. Reigning CUSA Defensive Player of the Week Maurice Westmoreland tallied career highs in sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (3.5) and tackles (six).
UTEP has won the last two meetings against NMSU and loos to make it three straight victories over its rival on Wednesday night.
“You just love rivalries,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “That’s what college football is all about. You just love them and this one is a long one, one that’s been around for a long time and one that’s important to both programs.”
“I bleed UTEP now,” UTEP quarterback Cade McConnell said. “So going up in a rivalry game like this, especially the 100th annual meeting, is going to be important and it’s going to be very important for our team to win this one.”
New Mexico State (4-3, 2-1 Conference USA)
New Mexico State enters Wednesday’s game in good form. The Aggies have strung together a pair of wins. Its most recent win came last Wednesday when the Aggies grabbed a 27-13 win over Sam Houston in a CUSA clash at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies have also won three of the last four games, defeating New Mexico 27-17 on Sept. 16, but then falling at Hawai’i 20-17 on Sept. 23. NM State’s lone CUSA loss came at undefeated Liberty 33-17 on Sept. 9.
New Mexico State’s offense has been a big reason for its success. The Aggies’ offense is averaging 30.0 points per game, ranked 59th in the nation at the NCAA Division I FBS level.
NMSU’s offense has been spearheaded by quarterback Diego Pavia. In Pavia’s last four games, Pavia has accounted for 1,254 total yards, 10 total touchdowns (eight passing, two rushing) and just one turnover.
“He’s playing at a good level right now and playing with some confidence,” NMSU head coach Jerry Kill said earlier this week. “You have to let him be himself, but he still has to be coached.”
“When you have a running quarterback, it’s a huge weapon for you. It’ll be an important part of this game for sure and it’s not easy at all,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “It’ll be a big challenge for us to do that. I think they’re playing their best football right now.”
New Mexico State will bring a much-improved team on both sides of the ball to this year’s game against UTEP.
Last year, in New Mexico State’s first year under the direction of head coach Jerry Kill, the Aggies suffered a 20-13 loss to UTEP in a close game at the Sun Bowl.
This year, the Aggies are looking for revenge in the rivalry series.
“I think they [NM State players] know, after the loss last year, how bad it felt,” Kill said. “You don’t like losing anyway but you don’t want to listen to, 45 minutes down the road, everybody talking about UTEP beating you. You get tired of hearing about it, and I think they are tired hearing about it.”
UTEP and New Mexico State will go head-to-head on Wednesday night at the Sun Bowl (45,871) in El Paso, Texas. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. MT. The game will be national televised on ESPN2.
KTSM will host a one-hour pregame show for the Battle of I-10 rivalry game at the Sun Bowl on Wednesday, Oct. 18 in the lead-up to the 100th showdown on the gridiron between the Aggies and Miners. The pregame show will air from 6-7 p.m. on KTSM, counting down to kickoff at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
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