WKU (1-9, 0-6 C-USA) vs UTEP (1-9, 1-5 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 17th at 7:30 PM ET
TV: BeIn Sports
Radio: 100.7 FM in Bowling Green, 92.3 FM in El Paso
Location: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smit Stadium in Bowling Green, KY
Betting Line: WKU -7, O/U 47
All-Time Series Record: WKU lead the all-time series 2-0. Their most recent meeting in 2017 ended up 15-14 with the Tops just barely getting it done.
At the start of this week, the Bowling Green Daily News reported that Mike Sanford Jr.’s future as WKU’s head coach is dependent on how the team finishes these last two weeks. If they beat Louisiana Tech and UTEP, he’s safe. If they lose both, he’ll likely be fired. Not only would a win for WKU be great for Sanford’s resume, but the Tops’ seniors would appreciate a victory in their final home game. That may be easier said than done, however.
Meanwhile in El Paso, the Miners obviously haven’t won very many games. They’ve been competitive in most of their contests though. Last weekend, for example, they lost to east leading Middle Tennessee 48-32. Miner running back Quardraiz Wadley racked up 108 yards and two touchdowns in that game. He also ran for two scores the previous week in UTEP’s lone win against Rice. The Miners are averaging 136.1 rushing yards per game, which isn’t an astronomically high total, but it’s respectable. Quarterback Kai Locksley has also added 352 rushing yards to the total.
The Miners’ run game could ultimately be what carries them past WKU in this game. The Hilltoppers are allowing the second-most rushing yards per game this season with 196.3. Linebacker Ben Holt has the third highest tackle total in C-USA, but observers of this team will tell you that nobody on WKU’s defense is exactly living in opposing backfields.
Steven Duncan is set to start for WKU this week after Davis Shanley had that duty the last few weeks. Duncan is 78 of 134 for 765 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions this season. If the Tops want to win, he’ll have to help them finish drives and do better than the 14 points they have averaged the last three weeks.
Losing this game could mean the end of Mike Sanford’s time in Bowling Green. On the other side, a second win for UTEP would frankly get their record above what many thought it would be this year. The pressure is on WKU. Compare that with UTEP’s run offense giving them an advantage against WKU less-than-stellar run defense, and I think this is an upset waiting to happen.
UTEP 31, WKU 27