UTEP to Kick Off 2012 Football Season at Home Versus Oklahoma
Feb. 15, 2012
UTEP's 2012 football schedule, highlighted by a first-time visit from perennial national power Oklahoma, has been finalized. The Miners will take on the Sooners on Sept. 1 in the Sun Bowl as they christen their 95th year on the gridiron. Two weeks later, on Sept. 15, UTEP will host long-time rival NM State as the "Battle of I-10" returns to El Paso.
UTEP will play six games against teams that appeared in bowl games last season - Oklahoma, Wisconsin, SMU, Tulsa, Houston and Southern Miss - with four of the six on the road. The Miners will face four schools coming off 10-win seasons.
"It's the opportunity of a lifetime," said UTEP's Mike Price, the seventh-winningest active FBS coach and one of two coaches to lead the Miners to three bowl games. "It's the most competitive schedule we've had since I've been here. It's where we want to be. Our players are really jacked up about it, and our fans should be excited."
In addition to hosting Oklahoma and NMSU, the Miners will also battle SMU, Tulane, UCF and Rice on their home turf this fall.
Oklahoma leads the nation in number of 10-win (33) and 11-win (20) seasons, and the Sooners rank third all-time in winning percentage (.718). Oklahoma has won seven national championships and made 45 bowl appearances. OU finished 10-3 last season led by quarterback Landry Jones. The Artesia, N.M. native enters his final year at the helm of the Sooner offense.
UTEP and Oklahoma have faced one another twice previously, both in Norman during the 2000 and 2002 seasons.
Oklahoma becomes the fourth Big 12 team to play in the Sun Bowl since coach Price's arrival in 2004, joining Texas Tech in 2006, Texas in 2008 and Kansas in 2009.
"It's tremendous for our school, our team and our community to play against these types of teams in El Paso," Price said. "Our home schedule is just awesome."
Following the opener versus the Sooners, UTEP will play at Mississippi of the Southeastern Conference on Sept. 8. The Miners and the Rebels will square off for the first time since the 1967 Sun Bowl, won by UTEP 14-7.
UTEP will return to El Paso for the NMSU clash on Sept. 15. It will mark the 90th meeting between the Miners and the Aggies.
The Miners will complete their non-conference slate at Wisconsin on Sept. 22 as they face a Big Ten team for the first time since 1986, and Wisconsin for the initial occasion. The Badgers were 11-3 in 2011 and lost to Oregon, 45-38, in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever.
UTEP's C-USA schedule features home games versus SMU (Oct. 6), Tulane (Oct. 20), UCF (Nov. 10) and Rice (Nov. 24). The Miners will play at East Carolina (Sept. 29), Tulsa (Oct. 13), Houston (Oct. 27) and Southern Miss (Nov. 17).
For the first time since 2002, the Miners will not play back-to-back home games. They will be on the road for consecutive contests once, at Wisconsin (Sept. 22) and East Carolina (Sept. 29). The latter is their C-USA opener. UTEP will be on the road for three of its first five league games.
The Miners return 45 lettermen and 13 starters from a 2011 squad that fell five points shy of bowl contention. Among the returnees are senior quarterback Nick Lamaison (1,718 yards passing in '11) and senior wide receiver Mike Edwards (team-high 657 yards). The defense will be bolstered by the return of linebacker Jamie Irving, who missed the entire 2011 campaign due to injury. Irving ranked second on the team with 79 tackles in 2010.
Season ticket information is forthcoming.
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