The Texas-El Paso Miners will host Florida Atlantic Saturday in an affair that is sure to feature some bad football. Both teams enter the game with a combined three wins and nine loses.
The Miners will attempt to record their first conference win of the year while the Owls will try to even their record at 2-2 in conference play this season.
Start Time: Oct. 24, 7 P.M. ET.
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas.
TV: Fox College Sports
Series: First ever meeting
Live Stats: Here.
Beting Line: FAU -5.5, Over/Under Point Total: 56.5
Forecasting UTEP: The Miners have been snake-bitten by injuries all season as they will be without 10 players who are out for the season but no other injury has hurt the team as much as all-conference running back Aaron Jones going down for the season due to torn ligaments in his ankle against Texas Tech early in the year.
The Miners have been unable to adapt without Jones, as UTEP is averaging 21 points per game, ninth in Conference USA. Since Sean Kugler has been head coach UTEP has relied on the rushing attack, but without Jones in the backfield they are averaging just 3.8 yards per carry.
Quarterback play has also been an issue. Week one starter Mack Leftwich has missed time with a concussion but is expected to start against FAU this weekend. Without him the team has played conservative on offense.
With an inexperienced quarterback and inconsistency at the running back and offensive line positions, this unit has been a mess. UTEP has been to the red zone 13 times all season.
Suffice to say, the offense has not exactly done a depleted defense any favors.
UTEP is allowing opponents to score 43 points and gain 495 yards per game. Last time out they allowed FIU to score 55 points.
Any defense that allows FIU to score over 30 points has major issues. Like the offense, the defense is missing several starters.
Freshmen are all over the field on defense as the skeleton unit has to learn on the fly due to key players missing time. FAU can sympathize as the Owls' defensive unit was ravaged by injuries last season.
If not for scheduling an FCS team in Incarnate World, UTEP would have one win on the season just like FAU. Their other win came against New Mexico State.
Forecasting FAU: Last week FAU put up a decent fight against Marshall before losing 33-17. This week they appear to welcome Jaquez Johnson back as the quarterback. Although in uniform, Johnson did not play against Marshall.
If his ankle injuries are fully healed, Johnson and running backs Jay Warren, Greg Howell, and Trey Rodriguez should have a field day on the ground against UTEP's depleted defense.
Defensively FAU had opportunities to make some critical stops against Marshall to keep FAU in the game but failed to stop Marshall's rushing attack.
Once again the FAU rushing defense will be tested as UTEP is a run-heavy team. The Owls are allowing teams to rush for 207 yards per game with 4.4 yards a rushing attempt.
Jalen Young will miss the first half due to an ejection in last week's game so maybe UTEP tries to test FAU's secondary. Ocie Ross has been phenomenal and displayed his potential as a shutdown corner once again last week as he returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown.
UTEP would be smart to not throw in his direction.
Prediction: FAU is more healthy and is more talented than UTEP. There is no reason they should lose this game. With that said, I think this game will play out very similar to the Charlotte game from earlier this season.
FAU will be in control for the majority of the game and although the score will be close, the Miners will never give the vibe of actually having a chance to win the game. I really want to take the over as I have no faith in FAU's rushing defense but I think both teams will rely on running the ball which will limit possessions. The defense makes enough stops for FAU to lead wire-to-wire.
FAU 31 UTEP 21.