UTEP Miners To Start Season Strong By Covering Spread vs. Aggies

Aaron Jones

Thursday, September 1, 2016 8:18 PM GMT

UTEP will have no issue racking up rushing yards and putting this game out of reach against the undersized defensive front for New Mexico State. Our betting expert provides his NCAAF Pick.

New Mexico State vs UTEP

The 101-year-old series between the UTEP Miners and the NMSU Aggies known as the “Battle of I-10” kicks off the season for these two programs Saturday night. Due to the close proximity of the campuses, it was natural for a rivalry to develop, the rivalry name is very simply the road that connects El Paso and Las Cruces. The Miners and Aggies are opening against each other for the eighth time in the series history and the first since opening the 2005 season in Las Cruces. UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler is 3-0 against NM State in his first three seasons at the helm of the UTEP program. Kugler is looking to become the third coach in UTEP history to start 4-0 in the rivalry against the Aggies. On the opposite side of the spectrum is NMSU Head coach Doug Martin who is looking to get his 1st win in the rivalry. The line has moved six points to the favorite since the opener and there are some key angles as to why.

A couple major issues have plagued New Mexico State this offseason. First, transfer quarterback Tyler Matthews left the Aggies program after Tyler Rodgers was named a starter, NMSU said that Matthews did not want to be a backup quarterback again. On the very next day, last year’s starter QB Tyler Rogers was arrested by the Las Cruces Police Department for misdemeanor battery. In a matter of hours, head coach Doug Martin went from a quality competition for the starting QB position to possibly relying on third down the depth chart. Since the news broke, it looks like Tyler Rodgers will not be prosecuted, although it is uncertain if he will play.

 

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New Mexico State has major questions to be answered outside of the QB position. The Aggies defense let up over 500 yards a game last year and an average of 45 points per game. One of the worst defenses in the country still has issues up front. Thin and light as far as lacking big bodies, combined with the lack of depth on the defensive line is a terrible matchup when going up against arguably the best offensive line in Conference USA.

UTEP is going to pound the rock. Head coach Sean Kugler was a former offensive lineman at UTEP and has molded his alma mater into the ground and pound mentality. The Miners were banged up last year and the single biggest hit they took was their best player and future NFL running back Aaron Jones in the second game of 2015. By all accounts, Jones is 100% healthy and ready to improve his career numbers off of his 2014 all-conference performance.

This is a classic case of a team that struggles to stop the run matched up against a team that is powerful upfront with an NFL caliber running back going to get 20 plus carries. With all the issues surrounding New Mexico State offensively, in addition to the mismatch the visiting Aggies face defensively at the point of attack. For my NCAAF pick, I very strongly recommend following the smart money and laying it with the home favorite UTEP Miners.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: UTEP -9.5 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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