UTSA vs. UTEP Odds, Pick, Preview: Will Roadrunners Stay Unbeaten?
Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: Zakhari Franklin (left) and Sincere McCormick (right).
- UTSA and UTEP meet for a Group of Five showdown Saturday night.
- The Roadrunners are a perfect 8-0 and are 11-point favorites over the Miners.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down the betting value below, delivering his best bet for the game.
UTSA vs. UTEP Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
It is absolutely criminal that UTSA is not ranked in the top 25 of the College Football Playoff Rankings. It has an 8-0 record while outscoring its opponents by an average of 20.6 points per game.
It’s also a travesty that College GameDay is not going to El Paso this weekend for a matchup between two programs having the best seasons in school history.
If you listen to the Big Bets on Campus Group of 5 Deep Dive Podcast with myself and Mike Calabrese, then you know our love for these two schools.
You also know that picking this game is basically Sophie’s Choice if she had to decide between her favorite Conference USA teams that have both been extremely profitable.
We know Sincere McCormick drives the bus for the Roadrunners. The 2020 Conference USA Player of the Year is averaging 111.4 yards per game with nine touchdowns this season. The workhorse leads the entire country with 23.9 rushing attempts per game.
As strong as UTSA’s running game has been, it might be surprising that the Roadrunners have a much higher Success Rate in the passing game, ranking 15th in the country.
Few players in the country have improved more than quarterback Frank Harris.
- 2020: 12 touchdowns, six interceptions, 63.6% completion rate, 135.8 yards per game, 6.5 yards per attempt.
- 2021: 16 touchdowns, three interceptions, 68.3% completion rate, 224.1 yards per game, 8.1 yards per attempt.
Harris has excellent chemistry with a trio of junior receivers. Zakhari Franklin leads the squad but Joshua Cephus and De’Corian Clark both average over 50 yards per game, as well. All three have at least five touchdowns on the year.
UTSA’s 39.4 points per game this season is the 10th most in the country. It has scored at least 45 points in three straight games.
All 11 starters returned from the 2020 Roadrunners defense. They brought back their top-14 tacklers and that experience has clearly paid off.
It makes sense UTSA is the Roadrunners because just like Wile E. Coyote often used to do, teams have been running into a brick wall when they try to rush on this defense.
The unit is allowing just 79.4 yards per game and 2.5 yards per carry on the ground this season — only Wisconsin and Georgia have been better at stopping the run. No team has rushed for 150 yards against this defense and has allowed just three rushing scores all year.
Two weeks ago, UTSA put together one of the most dominant defensive performances that any team in the country has had all season. The Roadrunners shut out Rice and allowed just 102 total yards in the game. The Owls managed just 36 passing yards and 66 rushing yards.
Another quarterback that has taken a step forward this season is UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison. He averaged 202.7 yards per game and 7.1 yards per attempt last season and has raised those marks to 235.1 yards per game and 9.3 yards per attempt this year.
Wide receiver Jacob Cowing is the best target for Hardison. He has racked up over 100 receiving yards in four of the last six games. UTEP ranks 30th in the country in Pass Success rate, largely due to Hardison and Cowing’s chemistry.
UTEP wants to establish the run first and foremost and has the 23rd highest rush rate in the country. The Miners have a pair of running backs they rely on in Ronald Awatt and Deion Hankins, who each average over 50 yards per game.
The calling card for Miner Nation has been the tremendous play of a very stout defense. UTEP is allowing just 294.9 yards per game and 4.7 yards per play this season — both are the best in the Conference USA and top 10 in the country.
Pick your poison against the Miners because this defense has done great in all facets of the game. They rank second in the conference against the pass and the run and rank 10th in Pass Success Rate and 19th in Rush Success Rate.
UTEP’s defensive line has been terrific and controls the game for the Miners. The Miners rank fourth in the country in Stuff Rate, forcing teams into long passing down situations. That is when UTEP has dialed up the pressure.
This front seven leads the entire country in creating Havoc this year and has been a force at getting into the backfield. Edge rushers Praise Amaewhule and Jadrian Taylor have combined for 12 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and 48 quarterback pressures.
While it hasn’t exactly been a murderer’s row of offenses, UTEP has not allowed more than 300 total yards or 5.0 yards per play in any of its last five games.
UTSA vs. UTEP Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UTSA and UTEP match up statistically:
UTSA Offense vs. UTEP Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
UTEP Offense vs. UTSA Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||44||60|
|Plays per Minute||46||122|
|Rush Rate||57.6% (46)||60.8% (23)|
UTSA vs. UTEP Betting Pick
All eyes should be on the Sun Bowl Saturday night as the two best branches of the University of Texas meet with the winner in the driver’s seat of the Conference USA’s West Division.
UTSA is for real and Jeff Traylor has done an excellent job in just his second season. He even was quickly rewarded with a contract extension.
The Roadrunners are likely angry they didn’t appear in the playoff rankings and are certainly capable of making a statement on Saturday.
But the Miners are built to slow things down and keep the game close. UTEP ranks 122nd in pace and 23rd in rush rate. That means it plays slow, keeps the ball on the ground and keeps the clock moving.
That will shrink possessions and make it harder for UTSA to pull away late. The one area UTSA has struggled a bit is allowing big plays through the air, and Hardison is capable of taking advantage of that.
The UTEP defense is tremendous and should be able to limit the Roadrunners enough to keep this game within reach in what is sure to be a crazy environment in El Paso.
We saw last week that the Miners will fight until the very end when they scored 15 points in the final three minutes to cover the spread against FAU.
UTSA should win this game, but I expect the UTEP defense to do enough to keep this backdoor open all game long. I will take the Miners to cover at home.
Pick: UTEP +11.5 (Play to +10)
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