New Mexico vs. UTEP: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
Lobos looking to top former WAC rival
New Mexico looking for a road win
WEEK 4: New Mexico (2-1) vs. UTEP (2-1)
WHEN: Friday, September 18 — 7:00 PM PT/8:00 PM MT
WHERE: Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas
RADIO: KLAQ 95.5 FM 77KOB
SERIES RECORD: 42-33-5 in favor of UNM
ODDS (via Vegas Insider): +2
SP+ PROJECTION: New Mexico 31, UTEP 28
FEI PROJECTION: New Mexico 29, UTEP 27.1
The UTEP Miners (2-1) and the New Mexico Lobos (2-1) hit the field in a college football matchup at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, this Saturday.
The New Mexico Lobos and UTEP miners are the second oldest rival going back to 1919, and the first game was played 15 days before the Spanish Flu pandemic was declared to be over, so 102 years long!
This used to be a historic Western Athletic Conference game for many years and a fan favorite, but this is the first meeting now since 2014. This rivalry between these two teams has always been a fan favorite and has produced some exhilarating games over the years!
The Miners are 2-1 to start with wins over New Mexico State and Bethune Cookman. Their lone loss is to Boise State 54-14.
The Miners are averaging 27 points per game, while the New Mexico Lobos with 20.3 points per game.
The Miners are giving up 28.3 points per game while the Lobos defense is at 25.3 points per game under Defensive Coordinator Rocky Long.
The Lobos are allowing 320.3 yards per game and the Miners 328 yards per game, so both of these teams are very similar as far as numbers are concerned.
The Lobos are 2-1 on the season as well. They have wins over Houston Baptist and New Mexico State. Their lone loss is against No.7 Texas A&M Aggies 34-0
The Miners have a win over New Mexico State and an FCS team, while UNM also has a win over New Mexico State and a win over an FCS team.
Both teams are very similar in terms of numbers, and both are very well-coached with long tenures in the coaching world on both staffs.
One team will leave the Sun Bowl with a 2-2 record and a 3-1 record and halfway to a bowl bid for the 2021 Season.
This game will round out the non-conference for both schools before diving into their respective conferences C-USA AND MWC.
UTEP opens conference play against Old Dominion on Saturday, October 2.
New Mexico opens conference play against Air Force on Saturday, October 2.
— New Mexico Football (@UNMLoboFB) September 18, 2021
Coach Danny Gonzales complimented what he saw on tape for the UTEP:
“You can be sure that are looking at this schedule and looking at New Mexico and putting a little checkmark and saying that we can win this one,” said Gonzales. “Coach Dimel is building their model after Kansas State. He was with Coach Snyder for many years.”
Gonzales knows UNM will need to be on its A-game in order to have a shot. “They are a tough football team that plays the right way. They are a year ahead of us on their mission to turn that program around having got there in 2019. They play a 4-2-5 and they are pretty aggressive in the secondary,” said Gonzales, who added. “I like watching them on tape because they play the right way.”
The all-time series is 42-33-5 favors the Lobos, and the 80 meetings are the second-most for UNM against any one opponent, trailing only New Mexico State.
The last two meetings were tight affairs. In 2013 in El Paso, UNM won 42-35 in overtime as the Lobos stopped a fourth-and-1 attempt and then survived a replay review.
The following year, UNM trailed 24-7 and climbed back to tie the game late at 24-24. After forcing a punt with just under two minutes to go, UNM’s returner Dameon Gamblin fumbled the punt at the Lobo 4-yard line, and UTEP killed the clock and hit a field goal to win 27-24. It’s been that type of series all the way through.
The Lobos will have to be better on offense after getting shut out and held to just 122 yards. “We challenged them to be better, but there are other things,” Gonzales said. “We have to do a better job in the press box of seeing some things that we can have success doing, and that’s coaching; that’s not the kids’ fault.”
The game is a homecoming for Lobo running back Aaron Dumas, who led UNM in rushing against Texas A&M. Dumas graduated from El Paso’s Americas High School and will be playing in front of friends and family.
As Gonzales pointed out, he was enrolled at UNM in the spring but went back in May for his high school prom, which was only four months ago. Here’s hoping it’s just as fun a Saturday night for Sumas and the rest of his teammates.
Some of the key players to watch for the Lobos would be at the Quarterback spot with Terry Wilson; look for him to bounce back after last week’s shutout of the number one defense in the NCAA, the Aggies from Texas A&M.
Wilson has collected 592 passing yards, a 197.3 per game while connecting 56 of 88 (a completion ratio of 63.6%), six touchdowns, and just one interception.
Both Bobby Cole and Aaron Dumas lead the Lobos in terms of rushing. Cole has a team-high 171 yards on 38 attempts (average of 57 yards per game) and one touchdown.
Aaron Dumas has rushed for 164 yards on 35 carries this year. (average of 54.7 per game) He looked impressive against Texas A&M last week.
Mannie Logan-Green has a team-high of 9 passes 120 yards while scoring a touchdown and averages 60.00 yards per game.
Keyonta Lanier has also added five receptions for 87 yards, one touchdown, and Trace Bruckler has caught six passes for 76 yards and one touchdown, averaging 25.3 yards per game this year.
The UTEP Miners after only going 5-27 over the past three seasons under head coach Dana Dimel, UTEP began this season 2-0 for the first time since 2005, so this is the best start in many years for this program.
For the UTEP Miners, QB Gavin Hardison has put up 655 passing yards (218.3 yards per game) while completing 40 of 63 passes (63.5% completion percentage), with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
Running back, Ronald Awatt has 45 attempts for a team-high 244 rushing yards (81.3 per game) and two touchdowns, and Willie Eldridge has 123 yards on 23 carries, an average of 41.0 yards per game.
Reciever Jacob Cowing has 13 catches this season and leads the team with 293 yards (97.7 per game) while hauling in three touchdowns.
Under former UNM/SDSU Rocky Long, the Lobos defense has forced six turnovers (11th-most in FBS), and the Miners have committed six turnovers (19th-most in college football.
This will be something to keep your eye on and could determine the outcome of a close game.
Last week this Rocky Long 3-3-5 Defense held the Texas A&M Aggies to 4.5 yards per carry and managed to keep them to a 43% third-down conversion rate.
The 3-3-5 is meant to limit big plays and provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks. So far, this defensive unit is 14th in Defensive Pass Rush and 50th in limiting big plays.
Another significant factor is UTEP is 102nd in the FBS in third-down percentage (33.3%) and will be facing the 62nd-ranked New Mexico third-down defense (35.6%).
So look for an exciting matchup between to teams as they battle in El Paso at the Sun Bowl.
One team will leave 3-1 and head into conference play with lots of excitement about the possibility that they could go bowling this year.
This game between these two programs is always a lot of fun to watch and fun for the players as they compete in college football.
How the Lobo players respond to last week’s game and prepare mentally to play in the very loud Sun Bowl will be a huge factor for the Lobos to pull off the road win.