Mike Price is in his ninth year as UTEP's head coach (45-52 record) and 31st year as a collegiate head coach (174-174 mark).
Price is the third-winningest coach in UTEP history with 45 victories. Mack Saxon ranks first (66 wins) and Mike Brumbelow rates second (46 wins).
Price and Mike Brumbelow are the only coaches in school history to lead the Miners to three bowl games.
Price is the sixth-winningest active head coach in the FBS behind Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (251 victories), Texas' Mack Brown (227), Nevada's Chris Ault (226), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (197) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (187).
Price is coaching in his 349th career game on Saturday and his 98th at UTEP. Only Mack Saxon (118) has coached more games with the Miners.
Price and Saxon (13 seasons) are the only men to coach the Miners for more than seven seasons.
Price is 0-1 in his coaching career versus Oklahoma. His Washington State Cougars lost to the Sooners, 34-14, in the 2003 Rose Bowl.
Price is 0-8 all-time when coaching against Big 12 opponents (0-6 at UTEP).
UTEP in the Sun Bowl
UTEP is in its 50th season playing in the Sun Bowl.
The Miners have posted an all-time mark of 122-154-3 in the venue, which opened in 1963.
UTEP is 30-18 in the Sun Bowl in the Mike Price era.
UTEP has won 11 of its last 16 games in the Sun Bowl.
UTEP has never posted a losing mark in the Sun Bowl under Price. In their previous 35 years in the stadium (1969-2003), the Miners had a losing record 26 times.
UTEP is expected to draw 40,000+ fans in the Sun Bowl for the Oklahoma game for the first time since Sept. 20, 2008 versus NM State (42,930).
The Miners are 12-6 when playing before 40,000+ spectators in the Sun Bowl under Mike Price.
UTEP finished 5-7 overall and 2-6 in Conference USA, fifth place in the league's Western Division.
The Miners were playing for bowl eligibility in each of their last two games but lost at home to Tulsa (57-28) and on the road to UCF (31-14).
UTEP was 3-3 at home and 2-4 on the road.
The two road wins were the most for the Miners since 2008.
UTEP ranked fourth in the country in kickoff returns (26.4 avg.) and sixth in net punting (40.5 avg.).
The Miners averaged 154.9 yards rushing per game, their high water mark of the Mike Price era.
UTEP tied for fourth nationally in offensive plays of 70+ yards (four), tied for sixth in plays of 60+ yards (seven) and tied for 17th in plays of 50+ yards (nine).
The Miners will play three of four non-conference games against teams from the Big 12 (Oklahoma), Southeastern (Ole Miss) and Big Ten (Wisconsin) conferences.
UTEP's 2012 opponents posted a combined record of 84-71 (.542) a year ago.
UTEP will play six games against teams that appeared in bowls in 2011 (Oklahoma, Wisconsin, SMU, Tulsa, Houston, Southern Miss). Four of the six games are on the road.
The Miners will face four schools coming off 10-win seasons -- Oklahoma (10-3), Wisconsin (11-3), Houston (13-1) and Southern Miss (12-2).
UTEP and Mississippi will square off for the first time since the 1967 Sun Bowl, won by the Miners 14-7.
The Sept. 15 matchup between UTEP and New Mexico State is the 90th in the I-10 rivalry.
On Sept. 22, the Miners will take on Wisconsin in Madison, their first date with a Big Ten team since playing at Iowa on Sept. 27, 1986.
For the first time since 2002, UTEP will not play back-to-back home games.
UTEP will travel a combined 12,565 miles round-trip this season to play games at Ole Miss, Wisconsin, East Carolina, Tulsa, Houston and Southern Miss. In back-to-back weeks in September, the Miners will travel a total of 5,810 miles to face Wisconsin and East Carolina.
UTEP returns players who accounted for 13.8 percent (258-of-1,866) of the team's rushing yards last season, 88.2 percent (2,387-of-2,707) of the passing yards and 60.2 percent (1,630-of-2,707) of the receiving yards.
On defense, UTEP returns 60.7 percent (516-of-850) of its tackle production from 2011, 87 percent (20-of-23) of its sacks, 65.8 percent (39.5-of-60) of its tackles for losses, 61 percent (25-of-41) of its pass break-ups and 50 percent (6-of-12) of its interceptions.
UTEP returns its regular punter (Ian Campbell), field goal kicker (Dakota Warren) and kickoff man (Steven Valadez), as well as players who accounted for 30.3 percent (391-of-1,291) of the kickoff return yards and 37.3 percent (82-of-220) of the punt return yards.
Mike Edwards led UTEP in receptions (50), receiving yards (657), receiving TDs (three), and receiving yards per game (54.8) last season.
Clutch player who posted a team-high 24 first-down receptions, with 11 coming on third down.
Recorded at least two catches in every contest, including a quintet of games with a least five receptions.
455 of his yards and all three of his TD grabs came in C-USA action.
He recorded a career-best 187 yards at Rice and twice had seven receptions (Stony Brook & Rice).
Offensive line brings plenty of experience
With four seniors on UTEP's two deep, the offensive line is a particularly veteran group. The line enters the season with a combined 48 starts, including three players who are in double digits - Eloy Atkinson (17); Brander Craighead (11); and Jerel Watkins (11). Sophomore Kyle Brown is the only player on the line to have not started a game.
The Miners ranked tied for fourth nationally in long plays of 70+ yards (four), tied for sixth in plays of 60+ yards (seven), and tied for 17th in plays of 50+ yards (nine) a year ago.
The Miners scored 22 rushing touchdowns in the red zone in 2011.
UTEP's 154.9 yards rushing per game marked its third-best effort in 13 years.
UTEP registered four players with 150+ yards rushing.
MINERS LOOK TO REPLACE RUNNING GAME
While its offensive line gained plenty of experience last season, UTEP lost the meat of its running game with the departures of Joe Banyard (69.3 ypg), Vernon Frazier (36.2 ypg) and Leilyon Myers (30.7 ypg and 12 TDs).
The trio combined for 1,634 of the Miners' 1,859 yards last year.
UTEP returns the fourth-fewest number of rushing yards in the nation for 2012.
Sophomore Nathan Jeffery will take the reins of the UTEP running game. Jeffery carried the ball 26 times, collecting 166 yards (6.4 average) with one touchdown as a rookie.
Each scored at least one touchdown and averaged over 10 yards per reception.
Kevin Perry had 17 receptions for 203 yards (11.9 avg.) and a touchdown. He recorded five contests with 20 or more yards receiving and was the only Miner tight end to register more than 200 yards in receptions on the year.
Eric Tomlinson was tabbed to the league's all-freshman team in 2011, having recorded six catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Tomlinson averaged 13.8 yards per reception.
Craig Wenrick registered four receptions for 105 yards (team-leading 26.2 avg.). Wenrick registered one reception for 66 yards versus Tulane, the longest catch by a tight end in school history.
Miller led the squad in sacks with five and Reed, Watkins, Fely and Spencer combined for 12.
UTEP's returning career leaders by statistical category are DB DeShawn Grayson (tackles-201, pass breakups-13 & interceptions-2), DL Germard Reed (tackles for losses-12) and DL Greg Watkins (sacks-6).
LB Jamie Irving was UTEP's second-leading tackler during the 2010 season with 79 stops and tied for the team lead with 4.5 tackles for losses that year.
UTEP increased its sack total from 14 to 24 last season. The Miners also raised their tackle for loss figure from 50 to 60 despite playing one fewer game than in 2010.
PATTERSON's STOP TROOPS
In 25 games since Andre Patterson took over as UTEP's defensive coordinator, UTEP has yielded 24 points or fewer on 13 occasions. The Miners had surrendered 24 points or less 13 times in 48 games over the previous four seasons prior to Patterson's arrival.
The Miners have also limited opponents to under 300 yards of offense seven times under Patterson, a feat they achieved six times in the previous four years.
UTEP's defensive balance under Patterson is evidenced by the fact that the Miners haven't had a 100-tackle player in back-to-back years for the first time since the evolution of the statistic in 1969. UTEP had at least one 100-tackle performer in 25 straight seasons from 1985-2009.
CAMPBELL RETURNS AS SPECIAL TEAMS STANDOUT
Ian Campbell was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award last year.
Campbell ended the 2011 campaign ranked third nationally in punting with an average of 46.1 yards per punt, kicking 48 times for a total of 2, 214 yards.
The Duarte, Calif. native had 18 punts covering 50-plus yards and averaged at least 50+ yards per punt in three games (54.8 vs. Stony Brook, 54.7 vs. Colorado State & 50.6 vs. Houston).
Campbell had as many punts fair caught (six) as for touchbacks (six) and registered 16 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Campbell was a second team All-Conference USA selection.
Veterans return for punt and kick returns
Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery will be UTEP's primary kickoff returner against Oklahoma.