UTEP has covered the point spread in four consecutive games, and the Miners are only one win away from becoming bowl eligible. UTEP has improved significantly on both sides of the ball under head coach Sean Kugler, who has the Miners standing at a perfect 3-0 SU and ATS as favorites this season (4-1 ATS L/2 years). The Miners also take the field with legitimate revenge after being humiliated 41-7 at North Texas last season.
UTEP’s offense revolves around a very good ground attack that is averaging 214 yards per game at 4.7 yards per carry this season. UTEP’s ground game has been even better at home where the Miners are averaging 265 rushing yards at 5.2 yards per carry. Overall, the Miners are averaging 29.8 points on 362 total yards at 5.3 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.0 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad.
While UTEP’s attack is nothing to write home about, the Miners should have success moving the ball against a woefully inadequate North Texas defense that is allowing 46 points per game on the road on 454 yards and 6.2 yards per play. To say that the Mean Green give up a boatload of big plays would be an understatement as evidenced by the fact that Dan McCarney’s squad is yielding 12.3 yards per point, including 9.9 yards per point away from home. Look for UTEP to become bowl eligible against a porous North Texas defense that has a propensity to give up several big plays per game.
While North Texas is struggling to stop anyone, the Miners’ defense has undergone a dramatic improvement over the last month. Indeed, the Miners are limiting opponents to just 16.3 points over the last three weeks on 65 rushing yards (2.6 yards per rush play), 222 passing yards (6.6 yards per pass play) and 287 total yards (4.9 yards per play). Meanwhile, the Mean Green are averaging 24.0 points per game over that same period of time at just 4.8 yards per play. If UTEP’s defense continues to play as well as it has over the last few weeks, there is no question that the Miners will become bowl eligible tonight.
More importantly, the Mean Green are 0-4 SU and ATS on the road this season where they are averaging a pathetic 18.2 points per game on 277 yards at 4.0 yards per play. Overall, North Texas is 1.1 yards per play worse than average offensively in 2014 (5.0 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 6.1 yards per play), which stands little chance to have success against a suddenly-resurgent UTEP stop unit. Even if we took the season statistics overall as opposed to the recent form of both teams, the Miners would still possess an advantage defensively over North Texas’ attack (or lack thereof).
Casual sports bettors will either ignore this game entirely or decide to bet on the road underdog in light of the fact that North Texas is coming off a 31-10 upset win over Florida Atlantic. But, that knee jerk reaction is misplaced in that the Mean Green are a money-burning 0-16 SU and 4-12 ATS off an upset win, including 1-9 ATS versus conference opponents. Finally, North Texas’ home/road dichotomy is shocking in that the Mean Green are +63 yards per game at home and -177 yards per game on the road. With North Texas standing at 0-4 ATS as a road underdog, take the Miners to become bowl eligible and invest with confidence.