Texas-El Paso (0-1) at New Mexico State (0-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 8 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) -- Las Cruces, New
Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: UTEP 0-1, NMSU 0-1. Away Record: UTEP
0-0, NMSU 0-1. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Conference Record: UTEP
0-0, NMSU 0-0. Series Record: Texas-El Paso leads, 53-35-2.
GAME NOTES: The 91st installment of the Battle I-10 rivalry takes center stage
in Las Cruces on Saturday evening, as the New Mexico State Aggies entertain
the Miners of Texas-El Paso.
The Miners are facing an opponent from the Land of Enchantment for the second
time in as many weeks, following a 42-35 overtime loss to New Mexico in the
season opener on Sept. 7 at home. This weekend's matchup marks the first of
seven road dates for UTEP in 2013, the first time the program has spent that
much time away from home since 2002.
As for the Aggies, a team which is operating as an Independent this season
after spending a number of years in the Western Athletic Conference, they have
bowed in two straight out of the gate for new head coach Doug Martin. In the
season opener, NMSU was thumped by Texas in Austin, 56-7, marking the fifth
time in as many meetings that the Aggies have come up short in that
Last weekend, New Mexico State played at home for the first time and was taken
out by Minnesota, 44-21, which means the program has now dropped 13
consecutive outings since opening 2012 with a 49-19 romp over Sacramento
The Miners own a 53-35-2 advantage in the all-time series with the Aggies,
winning four straight meetings thanks to a 41-28 triumph last season. The last
win for NMSU in the series was a narrow 34-33 final in the Sun Bowl back in
UTEP was able to get the meeting against New Mexico into overtime last week,
but the Lobos scored a touchdown on their first possession of the extra frame
and then held the Miners in check on fourth down by mere inches. Running back
Aaron Jones gave the Miners a fighting chance as he gained 127 yards and
scored twice, but the passing attack just wasn't good enough. Jameill Showers
converted 15-of-20 passes for 119 yards and a score and was sacked once as
UTEP logged 399 yards of total offense.
The biggest problem for the Miners was trying to slow down Kasey Carrier who
ran for 291 yards (the most in the FBS this season) and landed in the end zone
four times. Overall, the New Mexico rushing attack accounted for 395 yards and
six TDs, a combination that few opponents can combat these days.
Last season, the Miners had some problems slowing down opposing runners as
well, giving up 194.2 ypg which was ninth-most in Conference USA and 97th
nationally. Still with plenty of room for improvement, UTEP gave up a hefty
440.2 ypg in total a year ago.
Showers certainly has some development ahead of him, but considering the fact
that he was once on the Texas A&M roster, he has to have the qualities needed
to carry a college football program.
As for the Aggies, there are times when they seem like they just can't get out
of their own way. By halftime of their meeting against Minnesota at home, the
Aggies found themselves in a 27-7 hole and were never able to climb out.
The quarterback combination of Andrew McDonald and King Davis III converted
29-of-40 passes for 253 yards, but getting the ball into the end zone through
the air just wasn't in the cards. Running back Germi Morrison carried the ball
19 times and crossed the goal line twice, yet he gained a total of only 32 net
yards, which was still tops on the team surprisingly.
Part of the problem with the offense for the Aggies this season will be
dealing with the loss of receiver Austin Franklin. Second in the WAC and
eighth in the nation with 103.8 ypg receiving a year ago, Franklin's poor
academic efforts left him off the roster and that means Joshua Bowen is now
the unit's best option with 14 catches for 121 yards in two games, although
Joseph Matthews is no slouch with seven grabs for 105 yards.
But even if Franklin was available, would he be enough of a threat to offset a
defensive effort that, after two games has given up a total of 100 points?
Last year, NMSU was 117th in the country when it came to scoring defense,
allowing a hefty 39.4 ppg. If not for the opener in which the Aggies gave up
just 19 points to Sacramento State, the numbers would have been much worse.
More bad news for NMSU has the team recording just a single sack and five
tackles for loss through the first two outings of 2012, not exactly efforts
that would scare an offense like that of the Miners.
Even though rivalry games tend to take on a life of their own, in this case
the Aggies are still an underdog playing at home and it would take more than a
few breaks for NMSU to come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-El Paso 41, New Mexico State 27
09/11 10:32:23 ET