UTEP vs. Houston Baptist prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the game between the Miners and Huskies.
UTEP vs. Houston Baptist Game Preview
When: Saturday, November 5 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Broadcast: C-USA TV
It’s been a disappointing season for fourth-year coach Sean Kugler and his Miners, who viewed 2016 as an opportunity to rebound around a veteran squad. Hasn’t quite gone as planned in El Paso, though, as UTEP has stumbled on both sides of the ball. Still, the team is mathematically alive for bowl-eligibility if it can finish with four straight wins against the softest stretch of the schedule. And at 2-6, there’s no chance Kugler’s kids are going to look past Houston Baptist, a Southland Conference program having its own issues with futility this fall.
What To Know About UTEP
The defense is undermanned and undersized, yielding more than 38 points per game. And the offense is one-dimensional, unable to get the passing game on track. However, that lone dimension, RB Aaron Jones, ought to be enough to outscore an FCS visitor. Jones is a Big 12-caliber back, with the hands to contribute to the passing game. He’s rushed for more than 100 yards four times this season, while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Jones will be even harder to corral if QB Ryan Metz is a bigger factor in the attack this Saturday night.
What to Know About Houston Baptist
The Huskies have faced one other FBS foe in 2016, losing to Western Kentucky on Oct. 1, 50-3. Defense and offense are equally problematic at HBU, especially when the ball is in the air. The Huskies have surrendered 15 touchdown passes, while completing less than 50% of their throws. LB Garrett Dolan spearheads the defense with 97 tackles and 13 stops for loss. The offense is low-risk and conservative, opting to keep it on the ground with athletic QB Tony Dawson or one of the backs, B.J. Kelly or leading rusher Terrance Peters.
Offense: UTEP. Jones is the centerpiece of the attack, though this program does well at developing tight ends, like senior Hayden Plinke.
Defense: UTEP. The Miners will wilt in the face of physical opponents, but they’ll cover plenty of ground with linebackers Nick Usher, Alvin Jones and Dante Lovilette.
Special Teams: UTEP. Alex Luna averages 43.3 yards per punt, and PK Jay Mattox has a strong—and rested—leg.
Coaching: UTEP. Kugler is a veteran of the NFL ranks and a solid motivator who’s had a positive influence in El Paso.
Intangibles: UTEP. The Miners are home, hungry to get back into the win column and aware that they could play meaningful football throughout November.
Matchup To Watch
Jones vs. Dillon
There are no surprises how UTEP plans to attack Houston Baptist, giving a full workload to Jones, who touched the ball 28 times in last week’s loss to Old Dominion. But Dolan operates like a guided missile, and he’ll have his sights fixed firmly on the chest of No. 29.
UTEP vs. Houston Baptist Betting Odds
Spread: UTEP -23.5
UTEP vs. Houston Baptist Prediction
After winning just a single game since the opener, UTEP will delight in the opportunity to celebrate for a change. The Miners will unleash Jones, who’ll post his second game of the season of at least 200 yards on the ground. And their defensive range and speed will be too much for the one-note Houston Baptist offense. UTEP will get a rare chance to empty the bench and give second-half reps to the reserves.
UTEP vs. Houston Baptist Score Prediction: UTEP 51, Houston Baptist 10