CFB Week 2 Road Dog Pick - Potential Letdown Game For Texas Against UTEP

Utep Miners Football Players Celebrating

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, September 10, 2016 5:08 PM UTC

Saturday, Sep. 10, 2016 5:08 PM UTC

Did anyone have a better Week 1 in college football than embattled Texas coach Charlie Strong? I don't think so. But his Longhorns could be on letdown alert Saturday vs. UTEP. Texas is -29 on 5Dimes NCAA football odds with a total of 58.5.

Miners Happy To Have Jones Back
UTEP is a Conference USA school that was 5-7 last year. The Miners opened this season with a 38-22 win over New Mexico State. Aaron Jones rushed for 249 yards, a career high and third-most in UTEP history. He carried the ball 31 times and scored three touchdowns. Jones, the nation's leading rusher after Week 1, also caught three passes for 43 yards. He missed the final 10 games of the 2015 season with an ankle injury.

Quarterback  Zack Greenlee, a transfer from Fresno State, was 15-for-27 for 229 yards and three touchdowns. UTEP’s 38 points was the school's most since 1965 in a season opener against an FBS program. UTEP’s 518 total yards were the third most under Coach Sean Kugler. UTEP converted 11 of 17 third downs against NM State, the most under Kugler. UTEP also got out of that game without any major injuries.

The Miners are 0-15 all-time against schools that were original members of the Big 12 back in 1996. UTEP has been outscored by 680-243 in those and has allowed fewer than 33 points to a Big 12 opponent just twice. Last year, UTEP lost 69-20 at Big 12 school Texas Tech.

"A big key offensively, we can't have a bunch of three and outs," Kugler said of facing Texas. "We've got to control the clock."

UTEP is 1-0 ATS on college football odds and 1-0 O/U.


Biggest Win Yet Under Strong For UT?
Perhaps Texas should bring in actor and huge UT supporter Matthew McConaughey before every game. He gave the UT players quite the pep talk before Sunday night's game against Notre Dame. Go ahead and YouTube it.

Strong entered this season very much on the hot seat as he was just 11-14 at Texas with back-to-back losing campaigns since being hired from Louisville to replace Mack Brown. And while I'm not ready to say that Strong's job is safe now, that seat is a bit cooler following UT's 50-47 epic double-overtime win over the then-No. 10 Fighting Irish. It was UT's first win over a Top-10 program at home in Week 1 since 1980. And it was quite an offensive turnaround for the Horns after totaling just 163 yards in a 38-3 embarrassment at Notre Dame in  last year's opener.

Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele got the start at quarterback this time against the Irish and played well, completing 16-fof-26 for 280 yards, two TDs and a pick while also rushing for a score. Buechele was the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener at Texas since Bobby Layne in 1944. But the guy he beat out for the job, senior Tyrone Swoopes, scored the winning 6-yard TD in the second OT. He carried 13 times for 53 yards and three scores in the game and surely will continue to see the field in non-passing situations. 

Strong, incidentally, was carried off the field. Texas had been very unimaginative offensively in his first two seasons but didn't resemble that at all under new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, who had the Horns playing more up-tempo in a spread offense. UT had 517 yards. If you want to nitpick, what was supposed to be a good defense allowed 444 yards and Texas also committed 11 penalties. Also, UT blew a 31-14 third-quarter lead. A blocked PAT try with just over three minutes left in regulation was returned for two points by the Irish to tie the game.  

Texas was unranked in the first AP poll but was all the way up to No. 11 on Tuesday. The Longhorns were last ranked in November 2013, Brown's last as coach. UT is 1-0 ATS on college football picks and 1-0 O/U.


Series History
Not much of one to speak of. Texas leads 4-0. The Horns won at home 64-7 in September 2009 and won at UTEP 42-13 in September 2008 in the most recent meetings.

Obviously, UTEP won't win this game. But it's a short week for Texas, which seems due for a letdown and also might be looking past the Miners to next week's tougher test at Cal. So I'll take the points here and hope it continues to rise. Go 'over' the total. UTEP is 6-1 ATS in its past seven games. Texas is 1-4 ATS in its past five after an ATS win. The 'over' is 4-1 in UTEP's past five non-conference games. 

NCAAF Free Picks:  Utep & Over
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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