EL PASO, Texas – UTEP (6-4, 3-3 Conference USA), in the midst of a three-game skid, will host a reeling Rice (3-7, 2-4 C-USA) squad on Saturday in the Sun Bowl. One losing streak will end as Rice is also on a three-game slide.
Eleven seniors will be honored prior to kick. The student-athletes include QB Isaiah Bravo, CB Josh Caldwell, OL Bobby DeHaro, WR Justin Garrett, LB Breon Hayward, S Dy’vonne Inyang, OL Darta Lee, FB Forest McKee, CB Walter Neil Jr., DT Josh Ortega, and RB Quardraiz Wadley.
The Miners are coming off a loss at North Texas, 20-17, on Nov. 13. The Miners took a 7-3 lead into the locker room, but the Mean Green rallied in the second half to take a 17-7 advantage. UTEP made a rally of its own, tying the game with 55 seconds remaining following a Gavin Baechle 37-yard field goal. Ronald Awatt scored his fifth touchdown prior, to get the Miners within three points at the 4:26 mark. But UNT converted a first down with a 58-yard pass play to the 10-yard line on third-and-8. Ethan Mooney followed with a game-winning 27-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining.
The Owls are coming off a 42-21 loss against WKU on Nov. 13. Prior, Rice lost in back-to-back overtime games – 30-24 vs. North Texas on Oct. 30 and 31-24 at Charlotte on Nov. 6. Rice has rushed for 1,461 yards and has scored 15 touchdowns on the ground. Ali Broussard leads the team in rushing (533 yards) and Khalan Griffin ranks second (360 yards). Jordan Myles, listed as a tight end, has rushed for 334 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns. On defense, Antonio Montero leads the way with 60 tackles and 9.0 tackles for loss. Naeem Smith leads the way with three interceptions.
“Rice is definitely better that their stats say. It’s a battle of [time of possession], [Rice] is ranked ninth in time of possession and we’re ranked 12th, and it’s two teams that like to keep their defenses off the field as much as possible,” fourth-year UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “They’re doing a good job at possessing the football. I think they have good defensive personnel and really good defensive front. Their four defensive front players are outstanding. All of them are really good football players, physical good players. They’re a little bit young in the secondary, and they’re beat up in the secondary. Offensively, that have most of their offensive line from last year. Across the board, they have good tight ends. They have two tremendous receivers. They’ve been throwing the ball a little bit more this year than they have in the past. And they’re a really well-coached football team. Should be a good battle for us.”
UTEP (6-4, 3-3 C-USA) vs. Rice (3-7, 2-4 C-USA)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 20
Time: 2:00 p.m. MT
Location: El Paso, Texas
Venue: Sun Bowl Stadium
Twitter Updates: @UTEPFB
Stream: ESPN+ (WATCH)
Radio: 600 ESPN El Paso
Rice owns an 15-8 record against UTEP all-time. The two programs have split their 10 games (5-5) in the Sun Bowl. The Miners last defeated the Owls on Nov. 3, 2018 by a score of 34-26 in Houston. UTEP last beat Rice in El Paso on Nov. 6, 2015 (24-21). Rice won the last meeting, 30-16, on Nov. 30, 2019 during the season finale in El Paso.
EARL CAMPBELL TYLER ROSE AWARD SEMIFINALISTS LIST
UTEP wide receiver Jacob Cowing was named a semifinalist to the 2021 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award announced by the selection committee on Nov. 18.
Cowing, one of the country’s premiere receivers, ranks seventh nationally in receiving yards (1,097) and yards per catch (21.5), and eighth in yards per game (109.7). Cowing has tallied 51 receptions and five receiving scores. Overall, Cowing has six touchdowns after taking one to the house on a 53-yard reverse play at Southern Miss.
RACKING UP 300+ YARDS TOTAL OFFENSE
UTEP has started the 2021 season with 10 consecutive games of at least 300-plus yards of total offense. It’s the longest in-season streak since 2000. It’s also the most consecutive 300-yard games since going 11 straight games from Oct. 9, 2009 thru Sept. 18, 2010.
FIRST 1,000-YARD SEASON SINCE 2010
With 1,097 receiving yards in 2021, Jacob Cowing became the seventh Miner to notch 1,000 yards receiving 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 (1,519 yards), Ed Puishes in 1970 (1,000 yards), Reggie Barrett in 1989 (1,042 yards), Lee Mays in 2000 (1,098 yards) and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. in 2006 (1,319 yards). Cowing’s 2021 total is the fourth most receiving yards tallied during a single season in program history.
COWING HITS CENTURY MARK FOR 12TH TIME
Jacob Cowing hauled in five receptions for 174 yards at UNT on Nov. 13, hitting the century mark for the 12th time during his career. He ranks tied second with Reggie Barrett (1987-90). Chuck Hughes (1964-66) leads the program with 13 100-yard games.
COWING’S 100-YARD GAMES IN ‘21
Jacob Cowing has recorded seven 100-yard receiving games, including six in the last eight contests in 2021. It’s the most 100-yard games by a Miner since Chuck Hughes’s nine 100-yard games back in 1965.
COWING MOVING UP IN THE TOP 10
Jacob Cowing now has 2,338 receiving yards in his career and moved into seventh place on the Miners’ all-time receiving list, passing Ed Puishes (2,234 yards from 1969-71)). Jeff Moturi (2006-09) ranks sixth with 2,527 yards. Johnnie Lee Higgins Jr. (2003-06) leads the list at 3,218 yards.
Gavin Hardison has averaged 282.5 yards passing with six TD tosses over the last four games. The 1,130 passing yards are the most by a Miner player in a three-game stretch since Trevor Vittatoe threw for a combined 1,383 yards over the final four games of the 2009 season.
HARDISON’S CAREER NUMBERS
Gavin Hardison has thrown for 4,149 yards on 277-of-523 passing and 20 touchdowns in 19 career games. Hardison ranks eighth on the program’s all-time list, passiung current UTEP Football Radio analyst Mike Perez (4,144 yards from 1990-93). John Rayborn (1995, 1997-98) ranks seventh with 4,194 yards. Hardison is four touchdown passes away from cracking the program’s top-10 list. John Furman (1958-61) and Nick Lamaison (2011-12) are tied 10th on the all-time list with 24 TD passes each. Hardison has two 300-yard passing games in his career, tying with Rocky Perez (1997-00) and Lamaison.
GAVIN GOING DEEP
Gavin Hardison has averaged 9.1 yards per attempt through nine games in 2021. The effort ranks third in Conference USA and is 17th in the country. Hardison averages 16.7 yards per completion, ranking second in C-USA and fourth nationally.
FIRST 2,000-YARD PASSER IN 11 YEARS
Gavin Hardison became first Miner to hit over 2,000 yards passing in a single-season since 2010 when Trevor Vittatoe threw for 2,756 yards. Hardison has thrown for 2,395 yards in 2021.
TYSON STEPPING UP
Tyson Wilson has started the last three games at the safety after an injury to Justin Prince. Wilson has responded with 26 total tackles, including a career-high 11 tackles at North Texas. Wilson added a career-high tying two pass breakups against no. 16/18 UTSA. Wilson ranks third on the team with five breakups, while he’s intercepted a pass and totaled 35 stops (tied fourth on the team) in nine games played this season.
HAYWARD HARRASSING OFFENSES
Breon Hayward tied his season best with 14 tackles at North Texas. He’s totaled 37 tackles the last three games – 14 at FAU, nine vs. UTSA. Hayward ranks fourth in Conference USA in total tackles (84) and tackles per game (8.4). Hayward’s on pace for over 100 tackles. He’d be the first UTEP defensive player with 100 or tackles since 2018 (A.J. Hotchkins – 126 tackles).