Records: UTSA (1-3), UTEP (1-3)
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. CT, Saturday, October 5
Location: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
Radio: Ticket 760 AM
Live Stats: Side Arm Stats
Series Record: UTSA leads 4-2 and has won the last two meetings.
Betting Line: UTEP -1.5, O/U 45.5
UTSA Roadrunners Outlook
The Roadrunners took two heavy blows in their last action before last week’s bye week. Not only were they obliterated and embarrassed by UNT in Denton, they also lost their starting quarterback on the second play of the game.
Frank Harris had wowed fans with his athleticism and pinpoint accuracy, but injuries continue to hold him back from realizing his full potential. The young QB popped his shoulder out of pocket in the Army game, then suffered an even more severe injury to the same shoulder against UNT.
Once Harris exited the game against the Mean Green, former LSU Tiger and JUCO transfer Lowell Narcisse took over the reigns. While Narcisse made a couple of impressive plays, he heavily struggled with his accuracy, often firing passes at maximum speed when a simple toss would have sufficed. Narcisse had two of his passes picked off, while several other would-be interceptions were dropped by the defense.
Narcisse is expected to start again this week so we’ll see if two weeks of prep will have him more prepared to find and hit open receivers.
Head Coach Frank Wilson has made two personnel adjustments on defense in the hopes of giving his team a much-needed lift. Linebacker Ladarian McFarland has moved to the backup middle linebacker spot, while JUCO transfer Trevor Harmanson is now listed as the starting outside linebacker on the depth chart. Senior Clayton Johnston has also earned starting snaps at cornerback over sophomore Corey Mayfield Jr.
While it’s probably unlikely Wilson would be fired immediately after a loss, this game certainly feels like a must-win if Wilson is to remain at UTSA. UTSA could technically lose this game and still reach bowl eligibility but that seems absolutely impossible without Frank Harris under center.
A win doesn’t change much for Wilson’s forecast, but it would be a sorely needed positive building block for a program that seems to be sinking deeper each week.
UTEP Miners Outlook
The Dana Dimel era at UTEP has gone exactly as most expected, which is to say it’s gone very poorly. UTEP is 1-25 in their last 26 games against FBS competition, so the Miners being favored this week is a.) A huge indictment on the Roadrunners and b.) A pristine opportunity for UTEP.
UTEP was routed by Southern Miss last week, which shouldn’t surprise anyone that’s watched both teams play this year. The Golden Eagles took a 31-13 victory at home, outgaining the Miners in yardage 519 to 294.
While UTEP didn’t put up too much of a fight last week, switching quarterbacks from Brandon Jones to Kai Locksley provided a bit of a boost for the offense. While Locksley wasn’t much more accurate through the air than Jones has been this year, Locksley was able to move the chains with his feet.
Assuming he gets the nod as the starter, the key for Locksley will be to take advantage of UTSA’s lack of discipline and inability to tackle efficiently. The Roadrunners have been plagued by penalties and missed tackles this season which could bail the Miners out of third and long situations where they’ve struggled this year.
Unfortunately the Miners won’t be at full strength this week as the toil of the season has begun to catch up to the program. Leading tackler Justin Prince will miss the remainder of the season with a broken leg, while starting guard Ruben Guerra and starting wide receiver Tre’Shon Wolf are both day-to-day with lower body injuries.
The biggest task for UTEP’s defense this week will be to find a way to create negative plays that will put UTSA behind schedule in down and distance. UTEP is ranked 122nd in the nation in creating havoc on defense, as the Miners have generated just five sacks and two interceptions through their first four games.
Losing Frank Harris really, really hurt UTSA’s chances of winning this game. Harris and running back Sincere McCormick have really been UTSA’s only form of offense this season. The Miners’ defense should play their best game of the year as Lowell Narcisse hasn’t shown an ability to accurately place the ball into his receivers’ hands. Kai Locksley should be able to control the pace of the game with his legs and give UTEP their biggest win since 2016.
UTSA 13 UTEP 17