BYU Cougars (6-6, 5-3 MWC) vs. UTEP Miners (6-6, 3-5 CUSA)
December 18 - 2:00 pm - ESPN
$750,000 payout per team
BYU and UTEP will meet in the fifth-ever occurrence of the New Mexico Bowl, which began in 2006 and has called Albuquerque home every year since. Last year, Wyoming beat Fresno St. 35-28. Neither the Cougars nor the Miners have ever played in the New Mexico Bowl.
These teams have played against each other before, though, dating all the way back to 1946. The Cougars overwhelmingly lead the head-to-head series, winning 28 of the 36 matchups, including 11 of the last 12. The last time these teams met, in 1998, BYU handed UTEP a 31-14 loss.
BYU is led by head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who has been in charge of the Cougars since 2005. On the other sideline, Mike Price has been head coach for the Miners since 2004. BYU had a down season by recent Cougar standards, but looks to bounce back against a UTEP team that ended the regular season on a downward spiral.
- Analysis for SBN Pittsburgh by Jeff Junstrom
SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION - BYU 37, UTEP 23
Jeff - BYU
Anson - BYU
Aaron - BYU
The two former WAC rivals are playing for the first time since 1998. BYU is 3-2 in its past five bowl appearances, and this is the first season since 2005 that the Cougars are not going to post a 10-win season. UTEP is making its first bowl appearance since 2005 and playing its fourth bowl game since 2000. The Miners have dropped four straight bowl games. -- Andrea Adelson
Traditionally a dog of a bowl, the New Mexico Bowl gets a UTEP team that lost five of its last six games, has no offensive consistency, and little defensive line. BYU isn't the BYU of the past, but it managed to rally from an awful start to win four of its last five games to get here.
The Miners have arrived at this bowl berth in typical UTEPian fashion, winning five of their first six games before losing five of their last six. A November 6 win over SMU got them to the six-win mark. They'll face stiff competition from the Cougars, who've righted their season after a series of early and inexplicable faceplants.