Texas might well be back, after the Longhorns started the 2016 season with a program-defining win against Notre Dame last Sunday. Charlie Strong knew he needed a huge victory to really get Texas going, and now he's got it. Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and veteran Tyrone Swoopes look like a brilliant run-pass, one-two punch. Young offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert is the toast of the town, and things just seem really, really good for the Horns.
So, they'd better go ahead and beat UTEP. The Miners would love nothing more than to pull off an upset in Austin, and while that's not likely, it'd be kind of disastrous for a Texas program that seems very ready to capitalize on momentum from the Notre Dame win. Texas has a potentially tough game next week at Cal, then two real tough ones in a row against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Handling business against an in-state opponent like UTEP is an important thing to do first, and Texas ought to be able to just keep trucking.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network. The broadcasters are Lowell Galindo (play-by-play), Keith Moreland (analyst), Ahmad Brooks (analyst) & Dawn Davenport (sideline).
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Texas opened as a 26-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. How will Buechele and Swoopes split the work? Texas used Swoopes smartly against Notre Dame. He ran out of an 18-wheeler package deep in his own end of the field, which mostly kept Buechele out of the worst field positions. He also ran a bunch around the goal line, including for the game-wining score. That worked really well, and it'll be worth watching to see if Strong keeps things the same or makes changes.
2. UTEP's still never knocked off Texas. The teams have only played four times, which feels surprising. They didn't even play once between 1933 and 2008, and they haven't met again since 2009. In-state, out-of-conference football is generally good, so cheers to Miners and Horns sharing a field.
3. Can UTEP score a few points? This offense has some upside, and it posted a 38-spot against New Mexico State last week. Texas' defense can make big plays, but it did give up 37 regulation points against a talented but sort of disorganized Notre Dame last week. It'd be good for UTEP to get into the end zone a few times, and that's very possible.