College Football Preview: East Carolina vs. UTEP
EL PASO, Texas ó When East Carolina travels to UTEP on Saturday, both teams know they’re running out of chances to become bowl eligible.
The Pirates (4-5, 3-2 Conference USA) will travel 1,900 miles to face the Miners (4-5, 1-4). Both teams need to win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible, which would be the sixth straight year for East Carolina and the fourth time in eight years for UTEP.
East Carolina has won both meetings with the Miners and is looking to post a winning league record for the sixth straight year. The Pirates are tied with Marshall in the league’s East Division standings behind Southern Miss (4-1), which used four non-offensive touchdowns to beat East Carolina last weekend.
That loss will make it difficult for the Pirates to return to the Conference USA championship game, especially considering two of the final three games are on the road.
In addition, the Pirates will likely have to win this one without starting tailback Reggie Bullock and top receiver Lance Lewis. Bullock is expected to miss his third straight game with a thigh injury while Lewis could miss his second straight due to a foot injury.
“We’re going to bounce back and finish strong,” East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill said. “That’s one of the things we’ve talked about all year. We want to finish strong as a team, finish strong within our division and become bowl eligible. We don’t have control of our destiny, but we know we can finish strong. All of our attention is on UTEP. That’s the bottom line. We’re not focused on anybody or anything else.”
The Miners are coming off their own disappointment, a 41-37 road loss to a two-win Rice team in which the Owls racked up 671 total yards.
“I just want to be with these kids when they win in November,” UTEP coach Mike Price said.