UTEP Miners 2022 College Football Preview
June 23, 2022
Record – 7-6
ATS – 8-5
All rise, MINER NATION!
UTEP was able to SHOCK the WORLD and play solid football from start to finish en route to their first winning record since 2014 (7-6). Their seven wins came against a vast collection of TOMATO CANS (FBS victims 15-45 WL, and something called Bethune-Cookman) but you can only play who’s on your schedule. They gave Fresno St all they could handle in the New Mexico Bowl but fell seven points short as double-digit underdogs (L 31-24).
Can UTEP have another magical season in 2022?
UTEP Miners 2022 Outlook
It wasn’t very sexy in 2021 but they did enough to win seven games. UTEP was #70 in the FBS in total offense, #87 on the ground, and #50 utilizing the THROW GAME. QB Gavin Hardison wasn’t very efficient (55.5%, 18-13 TD to INT) but he still threw for over 3,000 yards. Hardison will be without his top-two WRs from LY including the deadly Jacob Cowing (1,354, 19.6, 7 TD) who’s off to the Arizona Wildcats. WR Tyrin Smith looks like a keeper (17.3 YPC LY) but there’s no doubt this is an area of concern. The Miners are set at RB with the return of a 1-2 punch (Awatt, Hankins) that combined for well over 1,300 yards and 12 TDs on the ground LY. Three starters are back on the OL and recall that they did a fine job keeping the QB clean LY (19 sacks in 13G). We’ll call for a similar level of production compared to 2021 but expect the rushing attack to do more of the damage.
UTEP comes into the season off a stingy performance (#35 FBS total defense) and they did an excellent job defending the pass (#25 pass efficiency D, 55%, 16-8 TD to INT), and were fantastic on 3rd downs (32.6%, #12 FBS). Eight starters return on defense including their top-three tacklers and note that the starting groups at DL and LB remain intact. The Miners boast a great pair of pass-rushing DEs in Jadrain Taylor and Praise Amaewhule (combined 12 sacks, 18 QBH LY) and LBs Breon Hayward and Tyrice Knight each booked 100+ tackles in 2021. The secondary is much less-experienced but we expect the first two levels of the defense to ease the burden a bit. This stop unit looks rock solid but note they’ll be working with a new DC.
The INTREPID Phil Steele ranked these guys #121 in special teams LY but they should improve this season as all the key doods are back other than their primary KR. It would be great if they could find a weapon in the return game but we aren’t holding our breath.
Overall – The schedule-makers did them a SOLID by not booking UAB or WKU (!) on the conference docket. There are ten winnable games after conceding losses to the Sooners and Boise St. Things get HOT and HEAVY early as they face C-USA foe North Texas in their home opener in late August.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – October 8th – at Louisiana Tech
This will be their 3rd road tilt in four weeks with a bye week on deck. The Miners have lost four in a row in Ruston.
Season Win Total
Per BetOnline June 23
Over 5.5 -140
Under 5.5 +110
This still looks like a bowl squad to us. 36 of our 44 sets of power ratings have them playing in the postseason.
UTEP has lost seven (!) bowl games in a row and haven’t tasted postseason victory since the 1967 Sun Bowl when they took down Ole Miss by a score of 14-7. Rebels’ HC Lane Kiffin went for it on 4th down a record 24 times in that game **.
** easy, Karen. That’s a joke.
Our Conference USA DEEP INSIDERS had the Miners pegged correctly in last season’s preview when we opined the following…..“They should be competitive in several games and have a PUNCHER’S CHANCE of bagging 5-6 wins.”
It’ll be harder to sneak up on folks this year but we’ll be surprised if they don’t go bowling once again in 2022. Longshot play for the C-USA spoils for those who are looking for some SWEET ACTION.
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