UTEP head football coach Dana Dimel at a game against Liberty on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at the Sun Bowl Stadium.

Reports: UTEP fires football coach Dana Dimel

UTEP fired head football coach Dana Dimel on Sunday after six seasons and a 20-49 overall record, multiple outlets reported.

The Miners finished their season on Saturday with a 42-28 loss to No. 25 Liberty to end 3-9 (2-6 Conference USA).

Dimel took over before the 2018 season, and the Miners were 1-11 in each of his first two seasons. They had their only winning season under Dimel in 2021, when they finished 7-6 after a loss to Fresno State in the Liberty Bowl.

Dimel began his coaching career in 1987 at Kansas State, his alma mater, and was on staff there until Wyoming (1997-99) named him its head coach. He also was the head coach at Houston (2000-02) and returned to Kansas State before being hired to lead UTEP.

He has a career record of 50-88.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; El Paso, Texas, USA; No. 22 Liberty Flames quarterback Kaidon Salter (7) tries throws the ball against the UTEP Miners defense during the first half at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Liberty handles UTEP, finishes regular season 12-0

Quinton Cooley ran for three touchdowns as No. 25 Liberty completed an undefeated regular season by defeating UTEP 42-28 in El Paso, Texas.

The Flames (12-0, 8-0 Conference USA) will try to stay in line for the Group of 5 spot in the College Football Playoff’s upper tier when it hosts New Mexico State in Friday night’s conference championship game.

Cooley had 14 attempts for 65 yards, so he made good use of his scoring chances.

Quarterback Kaidon Salter gained 94 rushing yards on 12 carries. Running backs Aaron Bedgood (82 yards) and Billy Lucas (69 yards, TD) were also key contributors to the Flames’ 441 rushing yards. James Jointer Jr. added a TD run.

Salter was just 4-for-11 passing for 22 yards with a touchdown.

UTEP (3-9, 2-6) lost its third game in a row, managing just 50 yards on the ground.

Miners quarterback Cade McConnell was 12-for-25 for 164 yards and an interception. Backup Kevin Hurley ran and threw for touchdowns in the last 3:32.

The Flames scored on their first possession when Salter threw 6 yards to CJ Daniels for the game’s first points. Eighty seconds later, UTEP pulled even when Deion Hankins ran for an 8-yard touchdown.

It was 21-7 by the end of the first quarter with Lucas going in from 5 yards out and Cooley running 42 yards for a touchdown.

Cooley’s 1-yard run with 5:51 left in the first half extended the lead. The Flames scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, losing the ball on a fumble on the other.

Liberty had 287 rushing yards in the first half. Cooley ran in from 3 yards out for the only third-quarter touchdown.

Through three quarters, the Flames had touchdown scoring drives of 75, 75, 65, 82 and 55 yards. By then, UTEP had punted four times and thrown an interception.

UTEP closed within 35-14 with Mike Franklin running 2 yards to the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Louisiana Tech athletic director Eric Wood gets some advice from Curt Joiner during Tuesday's Bulldog Blitz at Shreveport's Cantina Laredo.

Reports: La. Tech LB suspended for stepping on opponent’s head

Louisiana Tech has suspended linebacker Brevin Randle indefinitely a day after cameras caught him stepping on an opponent’s head during the Bulldogs’ game against UTEP, multiple media outlets reported Saturday.

According to reports, Louisiana Tech athletic director Eric Wood announced the suspension through a statement, which in part read:

“In speaking with Brevin, he acknowledges that his action was wrong and understands the consequence of that action. Our University, athletic department, and football program believe in culture, class, and competitive excellence and in no way was that displayed in that moment.”

At the end of a run by UTEP quarterback Jake McNamara, Miners lineman Steven Hubbard appears to drive Randle into the ground (Hubbard was blocking Randle on the play) while other players scrambled for the ball after McNamara fumbled. Randle then rolls over on top of Hubbard and gives him a shove as leverage as Randle gets off the ground, then stomps on the side of Hubbard’s helmet/neck area with his right foot before walking away.

No penalty was called on the play, but after the game — a 24-10 Louisiana Tech win — UTEP coach Dana Dimel did say that officials acknowledged the missed call.

“The referee, who I really admire, came over at halftime and very gentlemanly said that he missed it,” Dimel told reporters. “That’s part of the game. (The official) was a class act, I really appreciated that.”

Randle, a redshirt senior who transferred to Louisiana Tech after four seasons at Stephen F. Austin, has 46 tackles (23 solo, 23 assisted) with two sacks and three tackles for loss this season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan (4) makes a touchdown catch against UTEP Miners linebacker James Neal (5) during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona racks up 544 yards of offense, cruises past UTEP

Jayden de Laura passed for three touchdowns and Arizona rushed for a total 244 yards as the Wildcats pulled away from UTEP for a 31-10 nonconference victory on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.

de Laura, who committed six turnovers — including five interceptions — in the first two games of the season, was more efficient against the Miners (1-3) while leading a balanced attack. He completed 23 of 29 passes for 285 yards without an interception.

Michael Wiley led the ground game for Arizona (2-1), rushing 17 times for 83 yards and a score. Jonah Coleman added 71 yards on three carries.

The Wildcats expanded a 14-3 halftime lead with a 38-yard field goal and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Cowing in the third quarter. Arizona’s final touchdown was set up by a big hit by safety Gunner Maldonado, who knocked the ball loose from Mike Franklin, recovered it and returned it 22 yards to the UTEP 26.

Three plays later, de Laura hit Montana Lemonious-Craig for a 4-yard TD reception with 9:19 left in the game.

Seven of the Miners’ first eight drives ended in a punt, and they didn’t reach the end zone until there was 1:32 left in the game, when backup quarterback Kevin Hurley connected with Javoni Gardere on a 25-yard reception. Starting quarterback Gavin Hardison completed 15 of 31 passes for 228 yards.

Cowing caught a game-high 10 passes for 84 yards. Tetairoa McMillan had six catches for 89 yards, including a highlight-show, one-handed grab over the middle for a 37-yard gain in the second quarter.

After a scoreless first quarter, McMillan turned a screen pass into an 18-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. UTEP kept it close for much of the half, blocking a 45-yard field-goal attempt and then driving 65 yards to convert a 25-yarder to make it 7-3 with 5:13 left before halftime.

The Wildcats answered with a 10-play, 74-yard drive, capped by Wiley’s 3-yard run at the 1:23 mark for a 14-3 edge.

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch talks the Arizona Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura (7) after an interception during the second half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Zac BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona plans to keep ‘slinging it’ vs. UTEP

Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura has been intercepted five times in two games, but coach Jedd Fisch says the Wildcats will stay aggressive when they host UTEP on Saturday night in a nonconference game in Tucson, Ariz.

De Laura threw four picks last week in a 31-24 overtime loss at Mississippi State, and he threw one interception — plus lost a fumble — in the season-opening 38-3 victory over Northern Arizona. He also was intercepted 13 times last season, the most in the Pac-12.

“Nothing is going to change,” Fisch said. “We’re going to keep slinging it. We’re going to keep running our offense.”

Arizona (1-1) is taking some of the bad with a lot of good from de Laura, a junior in his second season of starting at Arizona after being the 2021 Pac-12 Offensive Freshman Player of the Year. He is completing 71.4 percent of his passes (50 of 70) this season for 627 yards and five touchdowns. He also has rushed for a team-high 91 yards and two scores.

A couple of his interceptions last week were on deflected passes.

“I didn’t see any of those throws that he made being careless or reckless,” Fisch said.

An improving Wildcats defense will be taking aim at UTEP (1-2), which is coming off a 38-7 loss at Northwestern. The Miners’ victory came against FCS school Incarnate Word, 28-14, on Sept. 2.

UTEP was tied 7-7 at halftime at Northwestern last week before giving up 31 unanswered points.

“We didn’t respond to the adversity at all. Things kind of went downhill real fast,” said Miners head coach Dana Dimel, an Arizona assistant coach from 2006-08.

UTEP’s Gavin Hardison has completed 44 of 67 passes for 494 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions. The Miners have a ground-heavy attack (64 percent running plays), led by Deion Hankins, who has rushed 46 times for 255 yards.

The teams last met in 2017, when Arizona won 63-16 in El Paso, Texas. The former Border Conference and Western Athletic Conference foes have met 52 times, with Arizona leading 39-11-2.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2023; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Kenny Fletcher (12) forces a fumble by Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Ben Bryant (2) during the second half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern relishes underdog role vs. UTEP

Northwestern will try to bounce back from a disappointing loss in its season opener when it hosts UTEP on Saturday in Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats believe they can turn things around quickly, even if not many other people do. Northwestern (0-1), of the Big Ten, entered the week as a slight underdog in its home game against UTEP (1-1), a Conference USA member.

“I’ve never paid attention to (betting) lines, never will,” said Northwestern interim coach David Braun, who took over for Pat Fitzgerald after multiple hazing allegations surfaced this summer. “I think this group is at its best when it’s an underdog, so that sits just fine with me.”

Northwestern lost 24-7 to Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., a week ago. Wildcats starting quarterback Ben Bryant completed 20 of 36 passes for 169 yards and threw two interceptions, and backup quarterback Brendan Sullivan led the team in rushing with only 11 yards on four carries.

Braun said Sullivan played well in backup QB duty (3 of 4 passing, 13 yards, one touchdown) but said he planned to stick with Bryant as the starter for a second straight week.

“Ben will be our starter for UTEP,” Braun said. “Proud of the way ‘Sully’ came in. You take stock in everything, everything’s being evaluated. But Ben knows he needs to play better. We know we need to find ways to give him and the rest of the offense more opportunities to create rhythm.”

UTEP is coming off a 28-14 win against Incarnate Word. That was the Miners’ first win of the season after they dropped their season opener 17-14 on the road against Jacksonville State.

Gavin Hardison has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions in his first two games for UTEP. Deion Hankins has been the team’s top producer on the ground, tallying 228 yards and a touchdown.

UTEP coach Dana Dimel praised Northwestern despite its recent struggles.

“(It is) a Big Ten team that has a lot of physical, physical football players,” Dimel said. “We know we’ve got to be ready for that type of football.”

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Eric Gray (0) runs after catching the ball during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the UTEP Miners at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

Ou Vs Utep

No. 9 Oklahoma routs UTEP in Brent Venables’ debut

Dillon Gabriel threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns to help No. 9 Oklahoma notch a 45-13 victory over UTEP on Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Sooners, in Brent Venables’ first game as a head coach, got off to a quick start, leading 21-0 in the first quarter.

Oklahoma overhauled things on both sides of the ball in the offseason after Venables was hired following the departure of Lincoln Riley to Southern California.

Venables brought aboard Jeff Lebby, known for fast-paced offenses at Central Florida and Ole Miss, to run the Sooners’ offense.

Lebby’s quick tempo was evident from the start.

Oklahoma needed only 13 plays — taking just 3:35 — to rack up 223 yards and build the early lead.

UTEP (0-2) settled in a bit through the air after that, cutting the deficit to 21-10 in the second quarter before Sooners got going offensively once again with Gabriel hitting tight end Brayden Willis for a 28-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half to make it 28-10 at the break.

It was Willis’ second touchdown of the half, the first time in his career with multiple touchdowns in a game.

The Sooners scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives of the second half — both on Marcus Major runs — to build a 42-10 lead by late in the third quarter.

Oklahoma’s third touchdown of the game came on a 46-yard run by freshman walk-on Gavin Freeman, who took an end-around for a score.

UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison finished 26 of 43 for 244 yards.

While Hardison helped the Miners get back into the game in the second quarter, leading a pair of long drives, UTEP struggled to get much going on the ground.

The Sooners held the Miners to minus-19 rushing yards in the first half and 28 yards for the game.

Eric Gray rushed for 102 yards on 16 carries and added two catches for 33 yards. Marvin Mims added three catches for 81 yards.

Oklahoma finished with 492 total yards

Tyrin Smith had eight catches for 71 yards to lead the Miners.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs Jordan Mims (7) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the UTEP Miners defense in the first half at the 2021 New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Mims’ three TDs lead Fresno State over UTEP in New Mexico Bowl

Jordan Mims ran for 165 yards and two short touchdowns and added a 22-yard scoring reception as Fresno State did just enough to beat Texas-El Paso 31-24 on Saturday afternoon in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, who weeks ago put his name in the transfer portal but reversed his tack when Jeff Tedford was hired as the next coach of the Bulldogs, started the game and passed for 286 yards and a score in the victory.

The Bulldogs (10-3) earned their first double-digit victory campaign since 2018 when they went 12-2 and won the Mountain West Conference championship.

Gavin Hardison passed for 252 yards and a touchdown but had two crucial fumbles in the fourth quarter for the Miners (7-6) in the loss. UTEP was denied its first bowl win since the 1967 Sun Bowl, extending the longest postseason victory drought in FBS that includes seven straight defeats in bowl games.

Fresno State drove the field on its opening possession, which culminated in Mims’ 2-yard TD run. Cesar Silva missed the PAT, keeping the score at 6-0 with 12:44 to play in the first quarter. UTEP answered on its first drive, with Trent Thompson hauling in a 1-yard scoring pass from Hardison that, after Gavin Baechle’s extra-point kick, granted the Miners a 7-6 lead.

Silva and Baechle added field goals for their teams from 42 and 38 yards, respectively — the latter of which put UTEP back in the lead at 10-9 with 14:49 to play in the second quarter.

Ronald Awatt’s 1-yard TD run extended the Miners lead to 17-9. But the Bulldogs were strongest over the final two minutes of the half, getting a 1-yard scoring plunge from Mims with 1:52 to play and a 45-yard field goal by Silva with 4 seconds left to take a 19-17 advantage into halftime.

Fresno State added to its lead on a 22-yard TD pass from Haener to Mims with 1:17 to play in the third quarter. But UTEP responded with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Calvin Brownholtz to Thompson to pull back to within 26-24 with 14:10 remaining.

Silva made it a five-point game with his third field goal of the game, a 21 yarder with 9:04 left. Then the Bulldogs added a safety, as Hardison fumbled while being sacked in his own end zone and the loose ball was recovered by UTEP lineman Elijah Klein.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA; UTSA Roadrunners running back Sincere McCormick (3) celebrates a touchdown run in the third quarter against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 UTSA remains focused on extending win streak at UTEP

Contract extension in hand, UTSA coach Jeff Traylor says he can focus on guiding his team through the best season in program history.

The 16th-ranked Roadrunners (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA) will aim to continue their ascent when they visit UTEP on Saturday.

Traylor was rumored to be on Texas Tech’s radar after Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt canned Matt Wells last week, but UTSA’s second-year coach cashed in on Sunday, landing a 10-year extension and an average yearly salary of $2.8 million.

“This is a huge relief for me,” Traylor said. “I thought it had become a distraction. I was worried about my players having to answer questions so much. We can’t predict the future, but I thought it was very important that we get this thing done for my players’ sake.”

While the lengthy extension might not keep other athletic directors from putting Traylor on short lists, it does indicate the rapid rise the Roadrunners have made up the food chain this year. Not only have they posted impressive road wins over Illinois and Memphis, but they have performed as they’ve gotten more attention.

Case in point: Their last game two weeks ago at Louisiana Tech, their first as a ranked team. Against an opponent that nearly won its season opener at Mississippi State, UTSA exhibited its usual balance on offense, sacked dangerous quarterback Austin Kendall six times and pulled away in the second half for a 45-16 victory.

Running back Sincere McCormick rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns, marking his third straight 100-yard performance. Quarterback Frank Harris was an efficient 12 of 19 for 193 yards and two scores, and Zakhari Franklin caught five passes for 118 yards and two TDs.

With a bye week in the rearview mirror, the Roadrunners are now focused on the Miners (6-2, 3-1). Although UTEP took its first conference loss last week at Florida Atlantic, 28-25, Traylor still sees a lot to like about it.

“They are an old-fashioned football team,” he said. “They execute. They move the chains on third down. They run the football. They are really good on defense. It is going to be a hornet’s nest out there.”

It’s been awhile since the Sun Bowl stadium has seen a regular-season game with this kind of meaning. There were low expectations for the Miners outside the locker room, but fourth-year coach Dana Dimel has applied some of the magic from the guy he once worked for, former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

Dimel said of the impact of the Florida Atlantic defeat on the UTSA matchup, “The loss does not make this game less important. It makes it more important. If we want a chance to contend for a conference championship, this game becomes really important for us to do that. It’s a huge challenge.”

The Miners’ most explosive player is wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who has 41 catches for 811 yards and has enjoyed five 100-yard games. Cowing was held to six receptions for 36 yards last week.

UTSA owns a 6-2 lead in the all-time series, including a 52-21 victory last November in San Antonio.

–Field Level Media

Sep 1, 2018; Miami, FL, USA;  FIU Golden Panthers place kicker Jose Borregales (30) wears a decal on back of helmet to honor Conference USA commissioner Mike Slive, who passed away in May 2018 at the age of 77 of prostate cancer, during the game against the FIU Golden Panthers  at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

FIU cancels game at UTEP due to COVID-19 outbreak

The Florida International and UTEP football teams both will not play for the second week in a row as a COVID-19 outbreak at FIU caused the school to cancel the scheduled Saturday game in El Paso.

The FIU athletic department issued a statement that read, “In an abundance of caution, due to the number of healthy scholarship football student-athletes available for this game, and to ensure a sufficient number moving forward, we regret to announce that we will not be playing the football game this weekend.”

The Panthers (0-3, 0-1 Conference USA) previously postponed four games this season, including their scheduled Oct. 30 contest against then-No. 19 Marshall.

The Miners (3-3, 0-2) didn’t play their scheduled game against North Texas last week with the Mean Green deciding they didn’t want to go to El Paso, where COVID-19 cases were on the rise. UTEP’s scheduled Oct. 17 game against Southern Mississippi also was postponed due to an outbreak involving the Golden Eagles.

–Field Level Media