UTEP Athletics Looks Back at the Twenty Greatest Football Games of the Decade
Feb. 5, 2010
It's safe to say, then, that the 2000's marked the Miners' most successful decade of football in the modern era.
The decade started with a bang, as first-year coach Gary Nord directed UTEP to its first Western Athletic Conference title. Four years later, Mike Price ushered in a new, high-scoring brand of Miner football. In the end, the Miners appeared in three bowl games for the first time since the 1950's.
The decade produced the school's all-time leading passer (Jordan Palmer) and receiver (Johnnie Lee Higgins Jr.), and the second-leading rusher (Howard Jackson). It produced UTEP's first-ever placement in the top-25 polls and BCS standings. It produced a victory over a top-12 opponent (Houston in 2009) for the first time since 1985. It produced a record-setting attendance year in the Sun Bowl (2005).
It also produced "The Natkin Napkin," a pair of "TD Lees" (Lee Mays and Johnnie Lee Higgins Jr.), a quarterback who everybody thought was from El Paso but wasn't (Rocky Perez), Gary Nord's world-record high jump (following the win over Rice in 2002), The Pick and the Mine Shaft.
We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane reviewing UTEP's greatest football games of the decade.
We'd like to thank the photographers whose work appears in this feature, and a special thank you goes to the sports information departments at Fresno State and Southern Miss University for their contributions to the gallery.