Conference USA Fumbles The Ball with UTEP and NMSU Football Game
I was more than a little stunned when UTEP released their entire 2023 football schedule today. In fact, it was more than a month earlier than last year's February 15th release date. As expected Conference USA will play Wednesday night football games in the month of October. Also as expected, C-USA completely ignored the long history between UTEP and their I-10 rivals, New Mexico State.
For the first time in 60 years, both the Miners and Aggies will compete in the same conference. NMSU will be moving into C-USA along with four other schools starting this summer. The obvious thing for the league to do is have both schools play their rivalry during the final game of the season, which usually takes place during the week of Thanksgiving. Like I said earlier, C-USA never does anything that makes rational sense.
Instead the conference chose to play the Battle of I-10 on Wednesday night, October 18th. That's right, the game will happen on a Wednesday night at the Sun Bowl. It is almost like C-USA decided to make things as difficult as possible for NM State fans to make the trip from Las Cruces and attend the game in El Paso.
Let's try and look at this from the conference's standpoint. New Mexico State football was a good story in 2022 and it culminated with Jerry Kill winning his first ever bowl game when the Aggies held on to defeat Bowling Green 24-19 in the Quick Lane Bowl. The only other C-USA game on Wednesday night, October 18th is FIU at Sam Houston, so there is a likely chance that the Battle of I-10 could be showcased on national television.
As for UTEP, the game with NMSU will be their fourth league contest of the 2023 season, which also includes non-conference road games against Northwestern and Arizona. It is also important to note that three of the Miners first four games will be on the road. If UTEP is able to play well in their first seven contests, then this mid-week showdown should still attract a decent crowd. If not, and the Miners stumble out of the gate, the Sun Bowl will look more like it has in recent years.