UTEP Confident Against Houston


POSTED: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 6:06pm

UPDATED: Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 6:04pm

Nearly injury free, the UTEP football team is confident heading into Thursday's contest, hear from the Miners at practice!

UTEP (2-2, 0-1 C-USA) will host Houston (4-0, 0-0 C-USA) on Thursday, Sept. 29 in the Sun Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. MT. The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network with Todd Harris (play-by-play) and Doug Chapman (analyst) calling the action.

UTEP will observe the 75th anniversary of its first bowl team with commemorative helmet decals on Thursday. The 1936 Texas College of Mines squad finished 5-3-1 under coach Mack Saxon – including 2-1-1 in the Border Conference -- and lost to Hardin-Simmons, 34-6, in the second annual Sun Bowl.

The series is tied 4-4 but UTEP holds a 4-1 advantage in El Paso. Houston leads the series 4-2 since the Miners became members of Conference USA. The last meeting in the Sun Bowl between the two squads came on Oct. 3, 2009 when the Miners upset the 12th-ranked Cougars 58-41.

Houston comes to El Paso a perfect 4-0 including a 56-0 thumping of Georgia State on Saturday. Case Keenum threw for 415 yards with two touchdown passes, but it was Houston’s running game that produced five touchdowns. The Cougars racked up 732 yards of total offense and held Georgia State to 241. The Cougars also defeated UCLA, North Texas and Louisiana Tech respectively to open the season.

The Cougars are climbing their way up the national polls after receiving votes in both the AP (38) and coaches (70) poll on Sunday. Houston ranks first nationally in passing offense (446.3 ypg). The Cougars also rank in the top-20 nationally in total offense (third, 585.0 ypg), net punting (third, 44.1 ypg), scoring offense (11th, 44.3 ypg) and passing efficiency (13th, 169.7). Keenum ranks first nationally in total offense (388.0 ypg) and eighth in passing efficiency (177.1). Sammy Brown also ranks first nationally in tackles for loss (2.38).

Bryce Beall and Michael Hayes each ran for three touchdowns as Houston racked up 308 yards on the ground in a 54-24 win over UTEP last season at Robertson Stadium. Houston QB Case Keenum completed 15-of-24 passes for 279 yards before exiting the game in the third quarter. Keenum was injured while trying to make a tackle on UTEP’s Travaun Nixon after being intercepted. UTEP’s Trevor Vittatoe was 30-for-54 passing with 340 yards and three touchdowns. The Cougars finished the game with 656 yards of offense.

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