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UTEP at North Texas: Game Preview

NCAA Football: Old Dominion at North Texas Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams on the opposite end of the C-USA standings spectrum meet Saturday afternoon in Denton.

North Texas can clinch the C-USA West division, and give them a birth in the C-USA Championship game, while UTEP is hoping to avoid their first winless season in decades.

The Mean Green are led by quarterback Mason Fine who is completing 63.3 percent of his passes, and has North Texas ranked 15th nationally in passing success rate.

Jeffery Wilson is one of, or C-USA’s top running back averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and is just a yard shy of the 1,000 yard rushing mark on the season.

Fine has a legit pass catching weapon in 6’1 sophomore Jalen Guyton who leads the team in targets. He had a 14 catch, 211 yard performance against Southern Miss earlier this season, and is tied for the conference lead in touchdown receptions.

Gaining first downs, and creating explosive plays are two major themes of North Texas’ offense. The Mean Green currently lead the conference in first downs per game, and had eight plays of 15-yards or more last week against LA Tech.

They also top C-USA in total offense, and rank 18th nationally in that department.

Defense is not a strong point of this North Texas team, but advanced stats paint the picture of a well above average run stopping defense led by veteran safety Kishawn McClain.

UTEP again had a solid defensive showing for a half last week, but the Miner offense continues to be one of the worst offensive units in school history and in all of D-1 football, FCS schools included.

The Miners again opened up the quarterback competition with Zack Greenlee taking first team reps late in the week as reported by the El Paso Times.

Josh Fields will be the Miners main ball carrier going forward after the freshman posted a season high, and team leading 87 yards rushing last week on the road.

The Miner defensive backfield had their best game of the season last week at Middle Tennessee. And talent DB’s like Nik Needham, Kalon Beverly, Devin Cockrell, and Kahani Smith will be tested against North Texas superb passing attack.

Can UTEP play spoiler, or will North Texas continue to roll and set records and memories under second year head coach Seth Littrell.

Key matchups to watch

  • Mason Fine vs. UTEP’s secondary
  • UTEP’s o-line vs. North Texas’ front 7
  • Nik Needham vs. Jalen Guyton
  • Jeffery Wilson vs. Alvin Jones

Prediction

For the 10th straight week, it’s hard to see UTEP’s offense finally getting going with so much uncertainty in the passing game.

UTEP’s secondary was really good last week, but generating a pass rush will be key in another strong defensive effort to the start the game.

North Texas is good, and UTEP is reeling, let’s just hope everyone stays healthy on the UTEP side.

North Texas 45 UTEP 14