Battle of I-10 back at the Sun Bowl: UTEP to face off against NMSU


Roman P. Carr

The UTEP Miners will play New Mexico State University in the annual Battle of I-10 at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Sun Bowl Stadium.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

After a disappointing start to the season after losses to North Texas and No. 7 Oklahoma, the UTEP Miners (0-2) are looking for their first win against their I-10 rival, New Mexico State University (NMSU) Aggies (0-2). 

There have been flashes of successful plays and connections in both games that can absolutely be expanded on in this game versus NMSU and into the rest of regular season.  

For this upcoming game in particular, the Miners offense needs to take advantage of any mistake the Aggies defense gifts them. Establishing the run game should be UTEP’s number one goal this week.  

One of those positive connections is between junior quarterback Gavin Hardison and senior wideout Reynaldo Flores.  

“I’ve been really impressed with him (Flores). What he does. He played tremendous in both games… And like today’s practice, he just did a tremendous job of leading again,” said UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel in a press conference when asked about Flores. “Today, he’s taking that role on to be a real strong leader in our program.”  

Against North Texas, Flores recorded 122 yards and eight receptions, averaging 15.25 yards per reception, and managed to gain 77 yards during the difficult game against Oklahoma. 

As for the Miners defense, they need to stop the run. Against North Texas, UTEP allowed 163 rushing yards that allowed the Mean Green offense to expand their offensive playbook and hammer play action throughout the game. Versus Oklahoma, the defense gave up 259 rushing yards and almost 500 all-purpose yards. The defensive line has failed to stop the run, forcing the linebacking core to pick up the slack.  

Dimel was asked if this matchup is a must-win. “Now once you start out and two, every game gets really, really critical for your football team. And so, you can’t afford to take, you know, a whole lot of losses because their early losses are just things you must overcome. And the only way to overcome or a loss is to go on win streaks,” he replied.  

The Miners are favored in this matchup, with the money line sitting at -641 for UTEP and +448 for NMSU with the spread at +14 for UTEP. The over under is currently at +/- 46 The last time these two schools met was Aug. 28, 2021, where the Miners pummeled NMSU 30-3. UTEP leads this series 58–38–2.  

UTEP versus NMSU will be back in El Paso for the first time since 2018 in the annual Battle of I-10 at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Sun Bowl and will air on ESPN+ and 95.5 KLAQ.  

Stats provided by UTEP Athletics, UNT Athletics, NMSU Athletics and OU Athletics. 

My prediction: 

UTEP wins in a tight game pulling away late in the third quarter and beating NMSU 27-18. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram