New Mexico State vs. UTEP Odds, Picks: The First Half Bet to Make

New Mexico State vs. UTEP Odds, Picks: The First Half Bet to Make article feature image

Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison.

  • New Mexico State takes on UTEP in a college football Week 2 battle.
  • These two teams are a combined 0-4 to start the new campaign.
  • Roberto Arguello previews this duel and offers up his best bet.

New Mexico State vs. UTEP Odds

Saturday, Sept. 10
9 p.m. ET
New Mexico State Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The New Mexico State Aggies will make the quick 41-mile trip down the road to the Sun Bowl to face the UTEP Miners on Saturday night in the 99th Battle of I-10.

Both teams enter this matchup looking for momentum after 0-2 starts. NMSU lost an ugly 23-12 game in Week 0 at home to Nevada before getting stomped at Minnesota, 38-0, last Saturday.

UTEP lost in its home opener to North Texas, 31-13, in Week 0 before getting blown out in Norman, 45-13, last week against the Sooners.

Both teams have yet to score two touchdowns in a game this season, but there’s no better place to find some momentum than against a rival on a Saturday night.

Both teams’ schedules get much more favorable in the next four weeks, so a win at the Sun Bowl could provide a big boost in turning a losing season around.

Whether you’re a diehard fan of one of these rivals or simply a bettor looking for more action, you’ve come to the right place.

New Mexico State Aggies

The New Mexico State offense is searching for answers, and that begins at the quarterback position as Diego Pavia and Gavin Frakes have split time with little success or separation between the two.

On 29 dropbacks, Pavia has just one big-time throw this season against three turnover-worthy plays with an 18.6 overall QBR. On 25 dropbacks, Frakes has a single big-time throw against two turnover-worthy plays with a 71.0 overall QBR.

The Aggies offense — devoid of playmakers on the outside to help the two quarterbacks — has been tough to watch through two games. The NMSU offense ranks outside the top 117 teams in the country in Pass EPA/Play, Passing Success Rate and passing explosiveness.

The running game hasn’t been much better for the Aggies, as they rank 106th in Rush EPA/Play, 123rd in Rushing Success Rate and 90th in rushing explosiveness.

The offensive line has generated little push up front, averaging 2.5 Line Yards per rush against Nevada and Minnesota.

The UTEP defense has had some success this season in standard downs and in limiting opponent Success Rates. The Miners defense ranks 27th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and sixth in Passing Success Rate Allowed.

However, the Miners have been susceptible to the big play, ranking 82nd in passing explosiveness allowed and 80th in standard down explosiveness allowed.

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UTEP Miners

The UTEP offense returns quarterback Gavin Hardison this season, but the best player on the Miners offense, Jacob Cowing, has made his own trip down I-10 to Arizona. He hauled in eight passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns in his debut in an upset win over San Diego State last Saturday.

Cowing’s absence has been significant, as he was the backbone of a unit that was explosive but inconsistent last year.

Without him, the offense has struggled through two games. The Miners have just a 25% Success Rate on passing downs (92nd nationally) and rank 118th in Standard Down Success Rate.

The good news for Miners fans is that Hardison and company have been explosive when they've had success. The offense ranks 16th in standard down explosiveness and first in the country in passing down explosiveness.

Hardison has eight big-time throws to four turnover-worthy plays through two weeks, along with a 35.1 QBR and 73.1 PFF passing grade.

Tyrin Smith and Reynaldo Flores are his top two targets on the outside, and both have accumulated 15 catches for exactly 198 yards this season. However, the Miners offense has been plagued by drops, as they have seven in two games.

They will face a New Mexico State defense led by defensive lineman Lazarus Williams, who has two pressures in each game this season and is the lone Aggie to record a sack.

Outside of Williams, there isn’t a ton of talent on an Aggies defense that ranks well below average in nearly all metrics — especially against the pass.

New Mexico State vs. UTEP Betting Pick

This line opened at UTEP -13.5 but was quickly bet up through the key numbers of 14 and 17 to the current consensus market price of UTEP -17.5. Our Action Analytics model has this game projected at UTEP -15.3, meaning there's no value left on the UTEP side.

The biggest advantage in this matchup is UTEP’s passing explosiveness (fifth nationally) against NMSU’s poor pass defense that ranks 125th in passing explosiveness allowed.

The UTEP offense hasn’t moved the ball consistently this season, but a big part of that (outside of being completely overmatched against Oklahoma last week) has been drops. If the Miners can clean those up (and avoid thunderstorm delays) while getting the ball to speedy receivers like Smith and Flores, they should cover against a bad Aggies team.

I don’t love laying the 17.5 points in a game with a total of only 47, as this screams "garbage time backdoor cover." So, I’ll play UTEP -9.5 in the first half.

The Miners should jump out to a quick start at the Sun Bowl, which I’m expecting to be close to full, if not sold out (it was sold out against North Texas in Week 0, and most Miner Nation fans even stayed through the rain delay).

The NMSU offense may get going in the second half as one of the two quarterbacks establishes a rhythm against a more vanilla UTEP defense, but a first-half bet here eliminates that risk.

If the UTEP offense, which has relied on explosive plays, gets off to a slow start or even falls behind, don’t be afraid to make a more aggressive live play on UTEP to win outright or stay inside of a touchdown on the live spread.

Pick: UTEP 1H -9.5

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