The Miners enter this game against Tulane after a 16 day break. They have been competitive in their last two contests, both against nationally ranked opponents, but have fallen short, and now find themselves at 2-3. Tulane enters the contest on a three game losing streak, and fresh off a last second loss to Syracuse at home.
The overall series between these two is tied at 3-3, but the Green Wave have taken 3 of the last 4, and UTEP has never beat Tulane in New Orleans. Last time the two teams met, Tulane put up 461 yards of total offense, while holding UTEP to 286, and knocking off the Miners 34-24 in the Sun Bowl. The last time the two teams met in New Orleans, Tulane escaped with a 45-38 OT win.
The Miners started off the season a bit slow, but are starting to find themselves, especially in the running game. UTEP is currently ranked 42nd in the FBS in passing yards per game with 255, and 85th in rushing with 123 yards a game. Tulane is currently ranked 55th in passing yards per game at 235, and is just ahead of UTEP at 84th with 124 yards rushing per game.
The Miners are led by junior QB Nick Lamaison. The jc transfer missed 2+ games with a shoulder injury, but is completing 62% of his passes, and has thrown for 774 yards, 6 TDs and 3 INTs. Lamaison's jc teammate, WR Mike Edwards, has become a favorite target and has 22 receptions for 318 yards and a TD. Senior WR Donovan Kemp isn't far behind with 15 receptions, 278 yards, and a TD, and senior RB Joe Banyard leads the rushing attack with 383 yards, and 2 TDs on 50 carries.
Tulane is led by junior QB Ryan Griffin, who has completed 61% of his passes for 1300 yards, 9 TDs, and 3 INTs. Senior WR Joe Kemp has 22 receptions for 234 yards, and a TD, and freshman WR Justyn Shackleford has 12 receptions for 187 yards. Sophomore RB Orleans Darkwa heads the rushing attack for the Green Wave, as he has racked up 364 yards rushing and 6 TDs on 87 attempts.
UTEP coach Mike Price, and Tulane coach Bob Toledo have ties that stretch beyond C-USA. Both coaches previously coached in the PAC-10. Price was at Washington St., and Toledo was at UCLA. Toledo holds a 5-4 advantage over Mike Price, with 3 of those wins coming here in C-USA.
The Miners have played much better than Tulane has over the last weeks. They've played consecutive games against nationally ranked opponents, and have held tough in both games. The same can't be said for Tulane as before that 3 point loss to a very mediocre Syracuse team, they lost by 21 to Duke, and by 39 to Army. Both teams are capable of winning this game, but ultimately it will come down to defensive stops and o line play. I'd like to think the Miners should have the advantage, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Projection: UTEP 31, Tulane 21