2012 College Football Season Preview: UTEP Miners
2011 Record: (5-7, 2-6 in C-USA)
Head Coach: Mike Price (174-174 All-Time, 45-42 at UTEP)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 New Mexico Bowl: lost to BYU 52-24
Four Year-Coaching Trend: 5 wins and 7.25 losses overall, 3 wins and 5 losses in C-USA per year
Big Name Opponents: 9/1 vs Oklahoma, 9/8 at Ole Miss, 9/22 at Wisconsin
Swing Games: 9/29 at East Carolina, 10/13 at Tulsa, 11/10 vs UCF, 11/24 vs Rice
Stat to Cheer: held opponents to 76.7% conversion rate in red zone (4th in C-USA)
Stat to Fear: allowed 33 sacks in 2011 (last in C-USA, 97th in Nation)
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: (Offense: 8; Defense: 5; Specialists: 2)
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Josh Fely (61 tackles, 3 sacks), SS DeShawn Grayson (67 tackles, 2 INT) DE Horace Miller (35 tackles, 4 sacks), DT Gemard Reed (31 tackles, 4 sacks)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Nick Lamaison (12 TD, 10 INT), WR Mike Edwards (50 rec, 3 TD), C Eloy Atkinson
Mike Price has been in place for seven years and has a 47% winning percentage. That might not sound great but before Price came on board, the Miners career winning percentage was just 37% all-time so he's represented an upgrade despite having just one winning season out of seven.
If the trends of a Mike Price UTEP team continue then this team will give up at least 30 points per game and score a little bit under 30 points per game. In order for UTEP to get to bowl eligibility everything needs to go perfectly. QB Nick Lamaison and the offensive line must stay healthy and the defensive needs to take a step forward. I wouldn't bet on the Miners taking any big steps this year. In fact, their schedule is slightly tougher this year which should result in a reduction of victories.
2012 Prediction: 3-9
Previous 2012 Previews:
Get more great college football analysis over at College Football Zealots.