UTEP To Play Rare Thursday Night TV Game

POSTED: 06:27 AM MDT Sep 28, 2011    UPDATED: 08:55 AM MDT Sep 28, 2011 
EL PASO, Texas -

Thursday night football?

That's right!

UTEP and Houston will tangle Thursday night in a rare weeknight nationally televised game at Sun Bowl Stadium.

It's been nearly a half-century since the Miners played a home game on a Thursday. So why now?

Athletic Director Bob Stull said UTEP, which is hoping for a good crowd despite not playing on a Saturday, really has no choice when it comes to playing on Thursday.

"We'd rather play Saturday, because we're used to doing that," said Stull.

He pointed out that due to the school's contract with Conference USA, "We really don't have a choice. The advantage is you've basically got a nationally televised game on CBS, so that's to our advantage. That's great advertising for our university and for our team. It's harder for people to get to the game, though."

For the first time since Thanksgiving Day in 1964, the Miners are playing a home game on a Thursday.

"I didn't even realize that," said ESPN El Paso Radio's Steve Kaplowitz. "I wasn't around in 1964."

UTEP was scheduled to play at home against Texas Tech on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But that game was canceled and never rescheduled.

Kaplowitz said the big question is whether fans will respond on a Thursday.

"There are some El Pasoans that would rather stay home and watch on TV than be at the Sun Bowl," Kaplowitz said. "To be honest, it's terrible because the Miners need that 12th man."

But ABC-7 caught a lot of Miner fans coming out of the ticket center Wednesday with tickets to the game in hand.

"Playing on a Thursday is not a problem for me," said Bob Green, a longtime UTEP fan.

"I kind of like it on a Thursday," said UTEP sophomore Renett Miller. "It makes the week exciting."

"I'm expecting a low turnout because everybody is working and it's going to be hard to get here," said Miners fan Fabian Lechuga.

"It would be amazing if we win, and I hope we do win. We should win," said Danielle Ojeda, a student at the school. "We're making signs. That's what we're thinking about is what signs to make to make sure to get us on TV."

Thursday's game against Houston, which kicks off at 6 p.m., will be available to 95 million homes nationwide. But nationally ranked South Florida and Pittburgh are playing on ESPN at the same time.

UTEP officials are making a $10 ticket available to fans who purchase a general admission or bronze section ticket at regular price. After the game, fans with ticket stubs will receive specials at the Cincinnati entertainment district.