September 1, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; UTEP Miners quarterback Nick Lamaison (7) sets to pass against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
The UTEP Miners (0-1) square off against the Ole Miss Rebels (1-0) in a non-conference matchup in Oxford, MS. The Miners are coming off a hard fought 24-7 homes loss against the #5 Oklahoma Sooners, while the Rebels are coming off a 49-27 home win against FCS opponent Central Arkansas.
The Miners and the Rebels have faced off only once before, in the 1967 Sun Bowl. That was a 14-7 win for the Miners, and also happened to be the last time UTEP won a bowl game. Overall, the Miners are 1-6 versus the SEC, with losses coming against Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, and Tennessee twice.
Ole Miss players to look out for include sophomore QB Bo Wallace, and junior RB Jeff Scott. In the opener against Central Arkansas, Wallace passed for 264 yards and two scores on 20-24 passing. He also rushed for 82 yards and another score. Scott, who was out a week ago, is the leading returning rusher, and should be a playmaker for the Rebels, should his health allow.
A couple names to look out for on the defensive side of the ball include junior DB Charles Sawyer, freshman LB Denzel NKemdiche, and sophomore DE C.J. Johnson. While this unit is a bit inexperienced and undersized, they certainly have plenty of guys with the talent to be stars.
Offensively, the Miners are led senior QB Nick Lamaison, and sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery. Lamaison had a game to forget in the opener against Oklahoma, but should be poised for a bounce back in Oxford. Jeffery was the star for UTEP against the Sooners, racking up 177 yards on 21 carries, and also scoring a TD off a blocked punt. Look for him to get the ball early and often.
The defense has playmakers throughout. Some names to look out for include junior DT Germard Reed, junior DE Horace Miller, senior LB Josh Fely, and senior DB DeShawn Grayson. Fely led the Miners with a dozen stops a week ago.
Both teams today will be looking for a win to validate what they showed in week one. In my opinion, this should be a very competitive game, but turnovers and mistakes will be what ultimately decides this game. If the Miners can keep a clean sheet like they did last week, we just might see our first win on the road against a BCS opponent. Go Miners!