UTEP Is Long Overdue for a Big Road Upset at Texas Tech
As Miner fans prepare for the second week of the 2015 college football season, some are wondering if the team can bounce back from a 48-13 shellacking at Arkansas and accomplish something that has never happened in their program's history. It is hard for some people to believe, but the Miners have never defeated a Power 5 football team on the road. As crazy as it sounds, that dubious streak could come to an end tomorrow afternoon in Lubbock.
UTEP plays Texas Tech, its second straight Power 5 opponent in a game that will be regionally televised on Fox Sports Network. The Red Raiders opened as 16.5 point favorites, but that line has jumped to 20.5 points just a day before kickoff. While many are taking Tech to easily handle the Miners, I tend to disagree with popular opinion. If there was a ever a time that UTEP was prime for an upset, tomorrow is the perfect case and here are three reasons why it could happen.
1. Texas Tech's defense is awful - when a team surrenders 637 yards of offense to an FCS opponent, you begin to salivate. Sam Houston State actually ran the ball for 371 yards against Tech's defense, which makes you wonder what Aaron Jones will do to them tomorrow? UTEP's star running back did rack up 153 yards against Arkansas, and he torched the Red Raiders last year in the Sun Bowl. Even if Tech throws the kitchen sink at him, UTEP's offense line should still be able to open up big gaping holes at the line of scrimmage for Jones to run through.
2. UTEP's ball control offense could keep Tech off the field - continuing with point 1, if the Miners are able to run the ball, move the chains, and control the clock, Texas Tech's offense will stay off the field while their defense wears out. UTEP has to execute this strategy to perfection is they are going to have a shot at pulling off the upset.
3. UTEP's defense will focus on stopping the pass - this might not matter, because Tech's air game is superior to the Miners' weak pass defense, but last week Scott Stoker's pass defense was exploited after they sold out against the Arkansas running game. They did play better in the second half, but by then, the game was already out of reach. Tomorrow, the main focus will be on neutralizing quarterback Patrick Mahomes. If they can contain him, it will be interesting to see if running back DeAndre Washington has a big game. Sophomore Justin Stockton did finish with 135 yards on eight carries against the Miners last season, but he is not even listed on the team's two-deep for this game.
If UTEP plays up to their potential (a big "if"), they will have a great opportunity to big a Big 12 opponent on the road. The Miners should have knocked off the Red Raiders last year in the Sun Bowl, but they couldn't hold onto the lead in the final 2:30 of the game. Tech will struggle this year, especially in conference, so this upset could look much more impressive tomorrow than it would in 4-6 weeks. Tech is not even close to Arkansas, which every football fan will see firsthand when the two teams meet in Fayetteville next week. If there was ever a time for UTEP's biggest upset since shocking #7 BYU 23-16 in 1985, tomorrow is it.
Steve's Prediction: UTEP 31 Texas Tech 27