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College football fans can catch a really good Conference USA matchup on ESPN+ this Saturday between Charlotte and UTEP. The Miners are searching for their first win against an FBS program while the 49ers are coming off back-to-back conference wins (39-38 vs. North Texas; 34-20 vs. MTSU).
Kickoff is set for 3:00 P.M ET.
This game might be a real shootout. Both defenses are allowing more than 36 points and 410 yards per game this year. Charlotte, it should be noted, is also averaging 32.1 points per game on offense. As for UTEP, they are coming along on offense. In their last two weeks, they are averaging 23.5 points. In their three games prior, they had scored less than 20 points in each game.
Niners Hoping Road Struggles Stop
After losing four games in a row, the Charlotte 49ers came home and put the ship back on course. The Niners have won back-to-back games heading into their matchup against UTEP, beating North Texas and Middle Tennessee State. Charlotte now sits at 4–5 with three games remaining. Luckily, two of their final three games are against UTEP and Old Dominion, teams with a combined 0–10 conference record.
Going on the road hasn’t been kind to Charlotte this year. In four games, they have gone 0–4 and their defense has allowed 45-plus in four of the five games. Overall, their defense is the worst in Conference USA, allowing 37.1 points per game. On the bright side, they are coming off a strong outing; against MTSU, they forced two turnovers and allowed 20 points.
The offense is the reason they have won four games, but that’s at home. Most Charlotte games wind up being shootouts, but on the road, they’re a different team. In their last three road games, they have scored 15.7 points per game.
That said, they have thrown more in the last two games and sophomore Chris Reynolds responded. The last two games were Reynolds best in terms of completion percentage since conference play started. Best of all, he didn’t throw any picks in either game.
The program's first bowl game is well in reach.
UTEP Might Have a Different Look vs. 49ersUTEP may not have won a game against an FBS opponent this year but that may change against Charlotte. The Niners struggle on the road and the Miners are coming off their only back-to-back 20-plus-point performances of the season. They are D-1 players, after all, and it wouldn’t shock anyone if they got up enough to hang a fat number on their division rival.
Additionally, there are going to be some new looks from the Miners that Charlotte hasn't been able to prepare for. Per ESPN El Paso, UTEP head coach Dana Dimel is dead-set on using the redshirt rules to his advantage and exposing some freshman to action without losing eligibility.
"Thetwo names that everyone has beenanxiously waitingto seearesophomore quarterback Gavin Hardisonand freshmanrunning back Deion Hankins," wrote Adrian Broaddus of ESPN El Paso.
Kai Locksley has been the guy getting snaps at QB and even if they give Hardison time, Locksley will see some action. A senior, Locksley has 279 rushing yards this year, as well as three rushing touchdowns and 656 passing yards.
If they do go the freshman route, they'll need to utilize their tight ends or keep the running back in the backfield to block. Few teams out there allow more sacks than UTEP and you can't let your future get killed back there. It could hurt him for the future and it would also give the 49ers more opportunities for impact plays.
- 2-9 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in November.
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. teams with losing records.
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Simply put, this is a great spot for Charlotte and it all comes down to each team's drive. The 49ers have never been to a bowl game, like...ever, and they have never won more than five games. They're at four right now and this is a game they're not overlooking. They know what is at stake and what they want more than anything is a bowl appearance. Three games remain and one is against Marshall so they know this is a must-have. Charlotte won't let up at all, and with UTEP about to start experimenting, it could be ugly quick. This line should be more like 16 or 17, not 11 or 12.
Prediction: Charlotte 49ers -13
Full-Game Total Pick
This is going to be an absolute shootout. I can't believe the number is so low. UTEP is worn down on defense. In their last two games, they have allowed 94 combined points. On offense, however, they're hitting their groove. They scored 47 combined points in their last two games after not scoring 20+ since their third game. For Charlotte, their defense is a turnstile. They're the worst in C-USA but they stay in games because their offense can hang in shootouts. The 49ers offense has scored 73 points in their last two games. This game goes over 70.
Prediction: Over 58