Miners look to bounce back at streaking North Texas on Saturday

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas – UTEP (6-3, 3-2 Conference USA), currently on a two-game skid, will play at a North Texas (3-6, 2-3 C-USA) squad that has won two games in a row. The Miners and Mean Green are set to kick off at 2 p.m. MT/3 CT in Apogee Stadium on Saturday.

The Miners and Mean Green can be heard on “The Home of UTEP Football” ESPN 600 El Paso and the UTEP Miners App with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action, former UTEP quarterback Mike Perez providing analysis and Mando Medina roaming the sideline. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.

The Miners are coming off losses at FAU (28-25 on Oct. 30) and most recently against no. 16/18 UTSA, 44-23, on Nov. 6 in the Sun Bowl.

The Mean Green have won two games in a row – both on the road. UNT won at Rice, 30-24 in overtime (Oct. 30), and ran past Southern Miss, 38-14, last weekend. 

For the second week in a row, the UTEP defense will face one of the top running backs in the league. UNT RB DeAndre Torrey ranks second in C-USA with 937 yards on 189 carries (4.9 avg.). Torrey ranks behind UTSA’s Sincere McCormick (1,060 yards). Torrey ranks third in rushing scores (eight), while he’s totaled nine touchdowns in 2021.

The Miners possess a weapon of their own as Jacob Cowing ranks second in the league with 923 yards on 46 receptions (20.1 avg.). Cowing has four receiving scores and a rushing TD. Tyrin Smith has some on strong as of late. The transfer WR tallied a career-high 112 yards on four catches with a score at FAU, and followed that performance with a career-best two receiving touchdowns against UTSA. Smith ranks third on the team in receptions (18), receiving yards (404) and is tied for the team lead with four receiving scores.

“North Texas is on a two-game win streak now, so they got some momentum to what they’re doing. They’ve had two nice wins and they’re running the football well, so it’ll be a good test for our defense to stop their run game,” fourth-year UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “They’re doing some good things with that and being physical and getting the ball to their tight ends. Defensively, I think Phil Bennett’s [UNT Def. Coordinator] coming into a really nice job with their defense, and they’re getting better. They’re a physical team up front, defensively, and it will be a good test for us. It’ll also be a good road test for us.”

UTEP (6-3, 3-2 C-USA) at North Texas (3-6, 2-3 C-USA)

Date: Saturday, Nov. 13

Time: 2:00 p.m. MT/3 CT

Location: Denton, Texas

Venue: Apogee Stadium

Twitter Updates: @UTEPFB

Stream: ESPN+ (Watch)

PxP: Kyle Youmans

Analyst: Hek’ma Harrison

Radio: 600 ESPN El Paso

PxP: Jon Teicher

Analyst: Mike Perez

Sideline: Mando Medina

Miners Notables

BACK TO DENTON

Due to the odd COVID-19 scheduling quirks of 2020, UTEP is playing back-to-back games against North Texas in Denton.  It marks only the second time since joining Conference USA (in 2005) that the Miners will face a league opponent at the same location in consecutive years.  UTEP played at Rice during both the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.

FLIRTING WITH FOUR

The Miners are seeking a rare fourth Conference USA victory.  UTEP has finished 4-4 or better in C-USA just three times since joining the league in 2005.  The Miners were 5-3 in C-USA play in 2005, 4-4 in 2008 and 5-3 in 2014.  

TURNING IT AROUND ON THE ROAD

After going a combined 1-24 on the road from 2017-20 (including a 45-43 loss at North Texas in 2020, a ‘home game’ for the Miners), UTEP is 2-2 away from home in 2021.  The Miners are seeking a third road victory, something they haven’t achieved since 2005, and a second C-USA road win for the first time since 2005 when they prevailed at Tulane (45-21) and Rice (38-21). 

UTEP’S DYNAMITE “D”

The Miners are allowing 23 points and 324.8 yards per game this season.  Statistically, it is UTEP’s best scoring defense since 1991 (21.0 ppg), and the Miners haven’t yielded fewer yards per game since 1969 (322 ypg).

GUNSLINGIN’ GAVIN

Gavin Hardison has averaged 285.7 yards passing with five TD tosses over the last three games.  The 857 passing yards are the most by a Miner player in a three-game stretch since Trevor Vittatoe threw for a combined 1,157 yards over the final three games of the 2009 season.

COWING TAKING AIM AT 1,000-YARD SEASON

With 923 receiving yards in 2021, Jacob Cowing needs 77 more to become the seventh Miner to notch 1,000 in a season, and the first since Kris Adams in 2010 (1,070).  The other UTEP players to record a 1,000-yard receiving campaign are Chuck Hughes in 1965, Ed Puishes in 1970, Reggie Barrett in 1989, Lee Mays in 2000 and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. in 2006.

SACK-LESS

UTEP failed to register a sack against UTSA last weekend after getting to the opposing quarterback at least once in each of its first eight games of the season.  The Miners have 21 sacks in 2021, the most in a season since 2015 (22).

EL PASO TAKING NOTICE OF IMPROVED MINERS

Attendance in the Sun Bowl has risen steadily this season as the Miners have racked up victories, from a crowd of 14,554 for the home opener versus Bethune-Cookman to 31,658 the last time out against UTSA.  The crowd of 31,658 was the second-largest for the Miners in a Conference USA home game since 2010, behind the 34,073 that attended the matchup with SMU on Oct. 6, 2012.  

TYSON STEPPING UP

Tyson Wilson has started the last two games at the safety after an injury to Justin Prince. Wilson has responded with 15 total tackles, including a career-high 10 tackles versus no. 16 UTSA. Wilson added a career-high tying two pass breakups against the Roadrunners. Wilson ranks third on the team with five breakups, while he’s intercepted a pass and totaled 24 stops in eight games played this season.

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