Conference USA and UTEPathletics.com
Twelve Conference USA teams will be in action during the opening week, with games being televised by seven different entities, as the league begins its 21st football season.
A trio of games have already been played on Sept. 1, with eight matchups scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 3, including beIN SPORTS first C-USA game when UTEP welcomes I-10 rival New Mexico State (7 pm. CDT).
UTEP and NM State will open the 2016 season, as the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 will be played in El Paso in the 94th meeting on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. MT in the Sun Bowl. The Miners are looking to extend their winning streak to eight against the Aggies, and fourth straight in the Sun Bowl. In the last contest in the Sun City, UTEP defeated NM State 42-24 on Sept. 13, 2014. During the current seven-game winning streak, UTEP has averaged 38.7 points per game to NM State’s 21.7 per contest. It’s only the eighth time the two programs will open a season against each other in series history.
UTEP and NM State will launch a new campaign in El Paso for the first time since 1987 and fourth time ever (1981, 1983, 1987, 2016). The Miners and Aggies are opening against each other for the eighth time in the series history and the first since opening the 2005 season in Las Cruces. UTEP holds a slim 4-3 lead against NM State in season openers, while the Orange and Blue is 2-1 in the Sun City. The Miners and Aggies opened against each other three consecutive seasons (1981, 1982, 1983) at one point.
Louisiana Tech will visit Arkansas (3 p.m. CDT on the SEC Network) and Southern Miss will be at Kentucky later that night (6:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN U). LA Tech is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons, but with nine combined starters back on offense (six) and defense (three), it will be looking to new several faces to make impacts this fall. The wide receiving corps, led by all-conference senior Trent Taylor (99 receptions for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns), may be the strength of the squad. Reigning and preseason C-USA Offensive Player of the Year QB Nick Mullens of Southern Miss leads the Golden Eagles to Lexington for their first meeting with the Wildcats since 1986. The game also marks the debut of first-year Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson, a former Golden Eagles assistant who spent the past four seasons as head coach at Alcorn State.
North Texas will host Metroplex rival SMU in the first ASN game of 2016 (6 p.m. CDT) and The home team has won each of the last two years in the SMU-North Texas series and the Mean Green hopes that happens again as the Seth Littrell era begins at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas. Across the state, UTEP puts a seven-game winning streak over New Mexico State on the line at the Sun Bowl. The Miners should be bolstered by the return of junior RB Aaron Jones, who missed all but six quarters of last season with an injury.
Also playing at home Saturday are Florida Atlantic (5 pm CDT vs. Southern Illinois on CUSA TV), Old Dominion (5 pm CDT vs. Hampton on CUSA TV), Middle Tennessee (6 pm CDT against Alabama A&M on CSTV) and UTSA opening the Frank Wilson era (6 pm CDT vs. Alabama State on KMYS-TV in San Antonio).