Bowl: New Mexico
Teams: BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6)
Toasting Town: Albuquerque, NM
Alternative Name: Everyone Gets a Trophy But Only Within Reasonable Travel Distance Bowl
Baldwin Level: Stephen
Noteworthy: UTEP pulled off an epic upset against BYU in 1997. The Miners’ suspect defense stopped BYU cold on twenty rushing attempts. Their third-string quarterback, concussed so bad a teammate needed to call the plays, handed the ball to the running backs. UTEP won 14-3 in El Paso.
The Miners are coached by Mike Price, who lost the Alabama job before his first game in 2003 after a nighttime interaction with this exotic dancer.
Attendance: The stadium holds 39,000. The Bowl claims to have sold 30,030 tickets. Though, that figure includes the allotments to each school which count as a “sale.” BYU sold only 2,500 tickets. UTEP sold 3,700.
For BYU to Win: They must run the ball. UTEP is 90th in total rushing defense, tied for 100th in yards per carry allowed. They must maintain their defensive intensity. That unit has improved radically since Bronco Mendenhall took control. They won four of their last five. The loss was 17-16 at Utah.
For UTEP to Win: They need to limit turnovers and they need to get in freshman quarterback Jake Heaps’ grill. The Miners aren’t adept at doing either.
Prediction: BYU finished strong and should have been better than 6-6. UTEP was fortunate to go 6-6 and nosedived the second half of the season. It’s a steep spread, but the Mormons should win and cover.
[Photo via Getty]