Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#419 UTEP vs.
#420 FIU
Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 7:00pm EDT
Ricardo Silva Stadium, Miami
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#419 University of Texas at El Paso
#420 Florida International University
1-4
3-3
1-3-1
2-4
2-3
3-3
17
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The UTEP Miners will travel on the road to Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday night for a Conference USA clash versus the Florida International Panthers.

UTEP is still searching for their first conference victory of the season, while the Panthers come into the weekend brimming with confidence after winning their last two games by a combined score of 92 to 23. Can FIU keep their momentum going at home against the lowly Miners on Saturday night?

Panthers lean on ground game in win over Charlotte

Florida International took down Charlotte 48-23 last week thanks to a big game from sophomore running back Anthony Jones. Jones rushed for a career-high four touchdowns and 117 yards on the day, while backfield mate Napoleon Maxwell also topped the 100-yard mark and finished with a score as well. Quarterback James Morgan completed 13 of 16 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Panthers play mistake-free football. FIU converted 9 of their 11 third downs and totaled 510 yards of total offense, including 350 yards on the ground to improve to 3-3 through six games.

Jones and Maxwell enter the week as the team’s leading rushers, but backup quarterback Kaylan Wiggins also gets into the action as well. Meanwhile, Morgan has completed 62.4 percent of his throws for 1,050 yards, seven touchdowns, and only two interceptions. He threw for 26 touchdowns and only seven picks last season.

The Panthers have scored 30.2 points, while averaging 416.3 yards of total offense per contest. FIU features a fairly balanced offense, averaging 203 yards per game through the air and 213.3 on the ground, but this is still a team that makes its living on the defensive side of the ball. They have limited opponents to just 24.2 points and 377.3 yards of total offense through six games. Look for the defense to come up big once again this week against a UTEP attack that is averaging under 300 yards of total offense per game this year.

QB carousel continues to turn at UTEP

UTEP will take the field this week in hopes of snapping a four-game losing streak and earning their first win of the season against an FBS school. It will be a tough task for the Miners though, who will have to travel across the country for a game in the Eastern Time zone. UTEP is fresh off of a 26-16 loss to UTSA in their C-USA home opener two weeks ago and they enter the week trending in the wrong direction in several statistical categories.

They are the seventh-worst team in terms of total offense at 298.2 yards per game and third downs have given the Miners trouble on both sides of the ball. They are second-last among FBS teams with a third down conversion rate of only 25.4 percent and they also own the third-worst third down defense at 51.6 percent. They also rank 116th in the country in penalties, averaging 73.6 penalty yards per game.

UTEP comes in allowing 33.2 points and 425 yards of total offense per game. Stopping the run and getting off the field on third down will be a major key for them once again this week. Opposing teams have controlled the line of scrimmage against the Miners, rushing for 187.4 yards per game against them so far this season.

The bye week did nothing to help solve the current conundrum at quarterback for the Miners, who are expected to keep the carousel turning this week. Head coach Dana Dimel said he hasn’t decided whether Brandon Jones or Kai Locksley will start under center this week. Instead, the two quarterbacks will battle it out in practice over the coming days. Jones is the more accomplished passer, though not by much, while Locksley adds another dimension to the offense with his legs. Jones has played in all five games (with four starts) and is completing just 54 percent of his passes for 594 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on the season. Meanwhile, Locksley is completing just 42 percent of his passes for 193 yards, with two interceptions and has not thrown a touchdown pass. However, Locksley is second on the team in rushing with 169 yards and two touchdowns.

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This is going to be a tough game for the Roadrunners, who will have to travel across the country for a matchup at Riccardo Silva Stadium. UTEP is 0-23-1 in the Eastern Time Zone, which includes a current 23-game losing streak. UTEP hasn’t beaten a D-I school yet this season and they’ve scored a combined 53 points over their past four losses. Meanwhile, FIU is fresh off back-to-back blowout wins, including a 44-0 defeat at home versus UMass. The Panthers have also proved that they can run the football, which has been a crux for this Roadrunners’ defense. Take FIU to cover the number at home in this C-USA battle on Saturday night. 

Prediction: FIU -24.5

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It’s hard not to like the over in this matchup. UTEP has to travel cross-country for this matchup and their track record in the Eastern Time zone speaks for itself. FIU has scored a combined 92 points over their past two games and they should be able to move the ball on the ground versus this Miners’ run defense. UTEP has had two weeks to prepare for this game (and this trip), so I expect them to put up a fight on the road here. Take this game to go over the projected total on Saturday night.

Prediction: Over 52
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.