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It’s a Conference USA tussle when UTEP meets Louisiana Tech from Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston. The Miners are winless overall and in the C-USA West, while the Bulldogs are 2-1 in the West division. Last season, Louisiana Tech crushed UTEP by 21 to win their fifth straight in this rivalry. The Bulldogs are a 23-point favorite and the total is 48.
Close but no cigar
UTEP is getting closer to finding that first one this season. The Miners have lost 18 straight games and haven’t won a game since Nov. 26, 2016 when they beat up on North Texas, 52-24. They’ve lost their last three games by a combined 19 points, so at least they are getting closer.
In their last game on Oct. 6 against North Texas, the Miners were a 27-point home underdog and managed to lose by just three points (27-24). Quarterback Ryan Metz had an uneven game, throwing for 313 yards with two TDs and rushing for 37 yards and a score. But he also had two interceptions as the Miners were getting close to scoring range. UTEP just couldn’t make enough big plays to get over the hump. With 1:34 left, on fourth-and-17, Metz attempted to hit tight end David Lucero, who lunged but the ball just went off his hands.
— UTEP Football (@UTEPFB) October 7, 2018
Metz is completing just 46.2 percent of his passes for 412 yards with two TDs and four picks. He started because Kai Locksley was injured but is expected to return. He’s also had accuracy issues, completing 48.5 percent of his passes for 527 yards with two TDs and three picks. He is a dual-threat quarterback, with 363 yards rushing and four TDs. Both quarterbacks are expected to play in this one.
On the season, UTEP averages just 315.7 yards per game and 156.5 in the air, while allowing 397 yards per game and 208 on the ground. They rank 128th in points scored per game at 16.5 and 97 in points per game allowed (31.7ppg). Over the last four games, they are allowing 27 points.
Bulldogs coming off a blowout
Louisiana Tech is 2-2 in their last four games and what they need right now is consistency. After losing to UAB, 28-7 at home on Oct. 6, the bounced back in a big way with an impressive 31-3 win over UTSA on the road. The Roadrunners had been 2-0 in Conference USA so this was a dominant performance from the Bulldogs, who jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and never looked back.
Defense was the key for Louisiana Tech against UTSA, as they held them to just 286 total yards and 85 on the ground. They also forced two turnovers and accumulated 309 yards passing from J’mar Smith. The defensive side of the ball has been a strength for Louisiana Tech, who is allowing just 346.8 yards per game (36th), 188.5 passing yards (26th) and 158.3 rushing yards (68th). They are struggling to try to run the football (143.2ypg), but their passing game is top-notch (268.7ypg).
Smith is completing 57.9 percent of his passes for 1,565 yards with 10 TDs and six picks. He has been limited in the ground game this season. After rushing for 371 yards with six TDs last year, he’s tallied just 110 on the ground with one score.
Louisiana Tech is:
- 9-1 Under last 10 after an ATS win.
- 19-7 Under last 26 in October.
- 23-7-1 Under last 31 after an ATS win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
One of these days, UTEP is going to get their first win of the season and break that 18-game losing streak. The way they are playing, they should easily cover this one. Football is about motivation and how do teams get up to play UTEP? They don’t and with Florida Atlantic coming up the following week. expect the Bulldogs to overlook this one. The Miners will be fired up after the bye.
Prediction: UTEP +23.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a tough one due to the low total though not as difficult when you see that Louisiana Tech has gone under in three straight games. The same team that scored 31 last week, also scored just seven points the week before. UTEP has to win a low-scoring game because they are averaging 16.5 points per game. They’ve gone under in three of four games and are 19-7 Under the last 26 in October.
Prediction: Under 48
Half-Time Side Pick
UTEP is ready to shock the world! Well, maybe not win this outright, but they are going to keep it close in the first half. Ryan Metz is a capable quarterback who can put up some points against Louisiana Tech.
Prediction: UTEP +13.5
Half-Time Total Bet
I do like the under overall and UTEP so I can’t go over in the first half. I think UTEP’s defense is strong enough to at least keep this low-scoring. Louisiana Tech’s defense is pretty strong and that’s good enough to keep this a low score in the first half against a mediocre Miners’ offense.
Prediction: Under 27 first half