The UTEP Miners (4-5, 2-3) will travel to the east coast as they face the Old Dominion Monarchs (4-5, 2-3) in Conference USA action Saturday afternoon. UTEP took a 42-35 win at home as a 3 point favorite on October 11, 2014 in the only previous meeting between the programs.
UTEP won for the second time in three games as they downed Rice 24-21 at home last Friday night. Old Dominion snapped a two game skid as they knocked off UTSA 36-31 on the road last Saturday. This game is scheduled to kick off at 12:00 pm ET from S.B. Ballard Stadium in Norfolk, Virginia and will not be nationally televised. Old Dominion is currently a 4.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 56.5 points.
UTEP won a back and forth game where no team led by more than seven points as Jay Mattox booted a 24 yard field goal with 48 seconds to play for the winning points. The Miners outgained the Owls 392-320 and finished with 19 first downs to Rice’s 16. UTEP controlled the clock as they held the ball for 33:24 while Rice had the ball for 26:36; the Miners did commit the only turnover in the contest. Mack Leftwich’s two touchdown passes were extremely critical to UTEP’s chances in the victory.
The Miners are a below average offensive team as they average 213.1 yards per game through the air (tied for 79th in the nation) and 137 yards per game (108th in the nation) on the ground on the year. UTEP is putting up 21.3 points per game, which leaves them tied for 108th in the nation in scoring offense, but they are currently just 114th in the nation by allowing 36.7 points a contest. Ryan Metz has completed 66 of 109 passes for 753 yards with six touchdowns and six picks; Mack Leftwich (84 of 154, 1035 yards, 6 TD, INT) and Kavika Johnson (18 of 30, 130 yards, TD) have seen action at quarterback as well. Aaron Jones is third on the Miners with 32 carries for 209 yards and a score while Darren Laufasa chips in 19 carries for 134 yards plus a touchdown. LaQuintus Dowell (63 carries, 281 yards, 2 TD) and Jeremiah Laufasa (76 carries, team high 292 yards, TD) have seen action as well with limited success. Jaquan White is second on the team with 32 receptions for 386 yards and five scores; Hayden Plinke contributes a team leading 33 grabs for 373 yards while Autrey Golden has grabbed 18 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Batson has 18 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns. Jay Mattox has hit all 20 extra points and 12 of 15 field goals on the season with a long of 50 yards.
Old Dominion fell behind 14-3, reeled off 20 straight points to take a 23-14 edge and led 30-21 early in the fourth quarter. Despite that, they needed a touchdown pass with 5:45 to play to get the win and erase a 31-30 deficit. Old Dominion outgained UTSA 548-424 and finished with 30 first downs to the Roadrunners’ 24 in the game. Old Dominion held the ball for 35:49 while both teams committed a turnover in the game.
The Monarchs are another struggling young FBS program as they are tied for 89th (203.6 yards) in passing offense and 73rd (168.8 yards) in rushing on the year. Old Dominion is scoring 22 points per game while they stand 107th in scoring defense by allowing 35.4 points per contest. The passing game is anemic as Shuler Bentley has hit 94 of 186 passes for 917 yards with six touchdowns and five picks. David Washington has hit on 67 of 115 passes for 868 yards with six touchdown passes and three interceptions while adding 112 yards on the ground in his work. Ray Lawry is the feature back in the ground game with 185 carries for 1,069 yards and 10 touchdowns; the rest of the team has combined for 138 carries for 450 yards and three scores. Zach Pascal has grabbed a team leading 44 passes for 613 yards and three scores; Johnathan Duhart (27 grabs, 394 yards, 5 TD), Vincent Lowe (15 receptions, 117 yards), Marques Little (21 receptions, 206 yards, 2 TD) and Lawry (16 grabs out of the backfield) are the only other players with double digit receptions. Three kickers have combined to hit 19 of 21 extra points and 9 of 14 field goal attempts on the year with a long of 45 yards.
UTEP is 5-12 ATS in their last 17 road games and 1-4 ATS in their last five after a straight up win.
Both teams are coming off solid wins last week and have a bit of momentum working for them. Old Dominion is coming off a road win and one in which they were a double digit underdog, which gives them a little extra pep in their step. UTEP is tough to figure out at times as they don’t run the ball with much in the way of success. In what should be a close game, look for a late score by Old Dominion to get the Monarchs to the .500 mark on the year.