UTEP vs. Utah State
Bowl Betting Pick: Utah State -10 (December 20th 2014)
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The Utah State Aggies (9-4) are by far the superior team in this game against the UTEP Miners (7-5), and I look for that to show on the field Saturday afternoon as they run away with the New Mexico Bowl. Utah State played in the tougher Mountain West Conference and nearly won it. UTEP played in weak Conference USA and was fortunate to make a bowl game.
What the Aggies did to win nine games this year was simply remarkable. They were down to their fourth-string quarterback, which meant that they had to ride their defense all season, and it worked. However, that fourth-stringer turned out to be at least the second-best quarterback on the roster and kept the offense afloat.
Freshman Kent Myers was forced to take off his redshirt this year due to all of the injuries at quarterback. Well, all he did was complete 69.2 percent of his passes for 798 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions, while also rushing for 235 yards (5.6/carry) and four touchdowns. He went 5-1 down the stretch with his only loss coming at Boise State, which won the MWC Title.
The Aggies are playing very well coming into this one having won seven of their last nine games overall while going 6-3 ATS in the process. They have held 10 of their 13 opponents to 21 or fewer points this season as they simply don’t let opposing offenses breathe. That will be the case in this one as well.
Utah State is giving up just 20.8 points per game and 4.8 yards per play defensively this year against teams that average 26.9 points and 5.5 per play. This is a great matchup for this defense because it is elite against the run, while UTEP can only run the football.
The Aggies are allowing just 129 rushing yards per game and 3.3 per carry against teams that average 176 rushing yards per game and 4.2 per carry. UTEP averages 215 rushing yards per game compared to just 144 passing yards per game. It runs the ball at a 2-to-1 ratio, averaging 44 rush attempts per game compared to only 22 passing attempts. This is strength on strength, and the Aggies are going to win this battle.
UTEP is only averaging 5.5 yards per play offensively against teams that give up 6.0 yards per play. The Miners are giving up 6.3 yards per play defensively against teams that average 5.8 yards per play. Those numbers just go to show that this is a below-average team and one that doesn’t belong on the same field as Utah State.
The only reason the Miners made a bowl game is because they beat up on their weakest opponents. Their seven wins came against New Mexico, New Mexico State, Old Dominion, UTSA, Southern Miss, North Texas and Middle Tennessee. None of their seven wins came against a team with a winning record. Those seven wins came against teams with a combined 29-55 record this season.
The Miners played four games against bowl teams this season. They went 0-4 in those four games with losses to Kansas State (28-58), Louisiana Tech (3-55), Western Kentucky (27-35) and Rice (13-31). They were outscored by an average of 27.0 points per game against those four bowl teams.
UTEP is 0-7 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons. It is losing in these spots by an average of 30.0 points per game. The Miners are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog. Utah State is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 after having won four of its last five games coming in. The Aggies are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games as a favorite. Utah State is 16-5 ATS in its last 21 vs. a team with a winning record. Bet Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl Saturday.
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