Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#367 UTEP 45 vs.
#368 UAB -16.5
Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 1:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#367 University of Texas at El Paso
#368 University of Alabama Birmingham
1-8
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The UTEP Miners will travel on the road to Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday afternoon as they prepare for a Conference USA tilt against the UAB Blazers.

The Blazers have clinched an invitation to a bowl game with six wins but they will need to bounce back from a pair of lackluster offensive showings over the past two weeks. UAB has mustered a total of nine points during that span, which has resulted in back-to-back losses for the Blazers, who come in with a 6-3 record and a 3-2 mark in conference play. Meanwhile, UTEP has won just one of their first nine games and the Miners remain without a conference victory with just three regular-season games left on the schedule. Can UTEP snap their eight-game losing streak on the road against UAB on Saturday afternoon?

Miners play well but drop eighth straight game

UTEP was unable to snap their season-long slide versus FBS competition last week, losing to Charlotte 28-21 to remain winless in C-USA play. The Miners blew a 14-point first-half lead, going scoreless in the second half, as the 49ers riled off 21 unanswered points to seal the Miners’ fate. Kai Locksley had one of his best games of the season, completing 15-of-20 for 215 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while also leading the team in rushing with 84 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Cowing caught six balls for a season-high 145 yards and Treyvion Hughes added 48 rushing yards and a score for the Miners, who were ultimately undone by a late-game interception by Locksley.

For the third consecutive game, Locksley served as the lone quarterback under center and performed well once again. Over the last four games, Locksley has completed 46-of-91 passes (50.5 percent) for 1,165 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception while adding two scores on the ground during that span as well. The senior signal-caller has thrown for 871 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions this season while adding 363 rushing yards and four scores on the ground for the season.

On defense, UTEP has surrendered 35.6 points and 434.3 yards of total offense per game, including 171.9 yards per game on the ground. The Miners have struggled defensively, giving up far too many big plays for the season. Last week, after the offense stalled on Charlotte’s five-yard line, UTEP’s defense was unable to come up with a big stop. Instead, they surrendered a 10-play, 95-yard drive that culminated in the game-winning score.

Blazers' offense sputters in loss to Southern Miss

UAB was unable to get anything going on offense for the second consecutive game, losing on the road to Southern Mississippi 37-2 last week. The Blazers mustered a dismal 173 yards of total offense and their only score came on a second-quarter safety. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Hopkins passed for only 103 yards and two interceptions while Larry Wooden added 33 yards on six carries to lead the team in rushing on the day. One of Hopkins’ two picks was returned for a touchdown, which contributed to UAB allowing a season-high 37 points in the loss.

Hopkins has been forced into action over the last two weeks after sophomore starter Tyler Johnson III was sidelined with a sprained knee. Johnston will miss his second straight game this weekend versus UTEP but could return as early as next week’s game versus Louisiana Tech, reports Evan Dudley of AL.com. His backup, Hopkins, has completed only 51.4 percent of his passes for the season for 141 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in limited action. Prior to last week’s start versus Southern Miss, Hopkins had thrown just 10 total passes this season. With the Blazers in desperate need of a win to keep their bowl season hopes alive, Hopkins will need to have a quick learning curve and a forgetful memory if he wants to improve this week.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Blazers, especially as of late. Over their last three losses, Blazers’ quarterbacks turned the ball over 10 times, which has directly led to 40 of the 87 points in their three losses this season.

On defense, UAB has surrendered a slim 19.7 points (22nd in FBS) and only 263 yards of total offense per contest, which ranks as the sixth-lowest mark in the nation. They’ve been particularly tough against the pass, allowing only 163 yards per game through the air, which also ranks sixth in the country.

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UTEP is having an awful season but there have been positives in recent weeks. Since moving to a one-quarterback system in the wake of an injury to senior Brandon Jones, the Miners’ offense has flashed improvements in recent weeks under fellow senior signal-caller Kai Locksley, who can also move the chains with his legs. Locksley is coming off his best game of the season, giving UTEP a rare advantage under center in this game. UAB will be forced to rely on redshirt freshman Dylan Hopkins, who has struggled in limited action so far this year. While I like UAB’s defense and expect them to squeak this one out, the 18 points are just too much juice for me to lay in this spot. Take the Miners to cover the spread on the road in this C-USA battle on Saturday.

Prediction: UTEP Miners +18

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With the way the Blazers have been playing in recent weeks, it is hard not to take a hard look at the under here. UAB has a strong defense, which ranks sixth versus the pass and sixth in total defense coming into this game. The Blazers have also scored a combined nine points over their last two contests, in part due to the presence of Hopkins under center. UAB has also struggled to run the ball in recent weeks, which has left them one-dimensional on offense. Take this game to stay under the projected total on Saturday afternoon. 

Prediction: Under 45
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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.