Heading into his sixth season as UTEP head coach, Dana Dimel is 17-40 but brought the Miners to a 5-7 record in 2022. Though the Conference USA may look a bit different in 2023, the current college football odds put the UTEP win projections at 5.5 total wins.
Can Dimel take them one step further and lead them to their second bowl game since 2014?
College Football Odds – UTEP Win Projections: O/U 5.5 Total Wins
If there is a year for the Miners to take a step, it’s 2023. Dimel is returning his starting quarterback Gavin Hardison, running back Deion Hankins, and wide receiver Tyrin Smith, who nearly transferred to Texas A&M this summer.
Hardison is a two-year starter at quarterback with over 7,000 career passing yards, but had a less impactful season in 2022 after Jacob Cowing transferred to Arizona after 2021.
Still, he threw for 2,044 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. More than half of that went to Smith, who caught 71 of Hardison’s 164 completions for 1,039 and seven touchdowns.
Hankins looks to be the top back, with Ronald Awatt moving on. Both backs had over 700 yards in 2022, with Hankins also running for three touchdowns.
The offensive line should be in a good spot as well with four senior starters returning despite the loss of Jeremiah Byers to Florida State.
The defense is experienced with four senior and seven junior starters but struggled last year. They finished 92nd in SP+ last year, but they forced a three and out on 33.8% of opponents’ drives last year.
With their experience and weaker schedule, they should see improvement.
Should You Bet on the Miners this Season?
Things are going to be really interesting with the Miners.
They are in Conference USA and it is significantly down this season compared to previous years. With UTSA out of the picture along with Charlotte, Rice, and North Texas, things are wide open, as newcomers Jacksonville State and Sam Houston aren’t likely to be contenders, even if Liberty could be.
Draft Kings Sportsbook listing the Miners at 5.5 wins is interesting, as they are viewed as a fringe bowl team. The schedule shapes up nicely, with three winnable games to start the year at Jacksonville State, Incarnate Word, and at Northwestern.
Their three toughest games are at Arizona and at home against both Western Kentucky and Liberty. This is the year for them to make the leap, and the over being at -130 is a little high, but buy into it.
Bet: Over 5.5 (-130)