North Texas vs. UTEP prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Mean Green and Miners on Saturday in El Paso, TX.
North Texas vs. UTEP Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 26 – 4:00 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
TV Broadcast: N/A
The Mean Green (5-6, 3-4 Conference USA) broke a three-game losing streak in their last time out, as Turner Smiley had seven receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns to help secure a 29-23 home win over Southern Miss. Willy Ivery ran for 111 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown, and Alec Morris added 267 yards and two scores through the air. North Texas survived a Southern Miss comeback bid after it had raced out to a 20-0 second quarter lead.
Meanwhile, the Miners (3-8, 1-6) are coming off of a rough 44-24 loss to Rice on the road, as Jackson Tyner threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns. UTEP gave up 34 unanswered points to the Owls in the loss.
In last year’s contest in Denton, Kavika Johnson passed for a touchdown and ran for another, and Dashone Smith returned an interception 65 yards for a score to help the Miners to a 20-17 win. Johnson completed just 4-of-11 passes for 43 yards but added 75 yards rushing on 16 carries. The teams combined for 461 total yards and seven turnovers.
What To Know About North Texas
A week after being overwhelmed by Western Kentucky in a 45-7 road loss, the Mean Green scored a crucial home win that now makes it possible for Seth Littrell to take his team bowling in his first season as head coach. UNT can get to 6-6 and finish 4-4 in C-USA play if it can get by UTEP on Saturday. No matter what happens, the steps that Littrell have taken are huge toward to the rebuilding of this program. Mason Fine is an intriguing freshman quarterback that he can build around, though a shoulder injury has pressed Morris back into the starting role after he was benched early in the season.
What to Know About UTEP
One week after the Miners blew a 31-20 fourth-quarter lead and dropped a 35-31 road game at FAU, running back Aaron Jones remained one of the lone bright spots on a team that has struggled all season long. Against FAU, he ran for 229 yards to become UTEP’s all-time leading rusher. Against a different set of Owls last week, Jones once again proved to be UTEP’s most important player, rushing 14 times for 75 yards and grabbing five passes for 51 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Ryan Metz threw for 169 yards and a touchdown, as he has stabilized a shaky quarterback position. Sean Kugler is finishing up his second straight season without a bowl game after taking his team to the New Mexico Bowl in 2014, so it will be interesting to see if UTEP officials consider a head-coaching change.
Offense: Even. Both units are getting relatively similar production from both their ground games and passing attacks.
Defense: Even. UTEP is allowing 429.8 yards per game, while North Texas is giving up 421.5 yards per contest.
Special Teams: North Texas. The Mean Green have a stronger special teams efficiency rating.
Coaching: North Texas. The Mean Green are enjoying a nice debut season from Littrell.
Intangibles: North Texas. Littrell is one win away from taking his team bowling after a one-win season last year for UNT.
Matchup To Watch
Morris vs. UTEP pass defense
The UNT signal-caller has completed just 53.3 percent of his throws with four touchdowns and six interceptions, but the pressure is on him to help deliver a win so the Mean Green can go bowling. The Alabama transfer has a chance to deliver in a big spot against a UTEP pass defense that is allowing 210.1 yards per contest.
Spread: North Texas -3
North Texas vs. UTEP Prediction
It’s been a fun year in Conference USA, and the Mean Green have a chance to give the league another bowl-eligible squad. Morris will make just enough plays through the air to help North Texas withstand another big game on the ground from Jones, whose efforts will go for naught in a loss. Littrell finishes off a very nice 6-6 debut campaign, and the Mean Green will wait to see if they get invited to the postseason.
North Texas vs. UTEP Score Prediction: North Texas 30, UTEP 23