Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#311 UTEP vs.
#312 Rice
Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 7:00pm EDT
Written by Chris King

A pair of teams from Conference USA do battle on the gridiron in the Lone Star State searching for a victory. The UTEP Miners are on the road as they make the in-state trek to face the Rice Owls Thursday night. UTEP comes in off a 24-13 home loss to Middle Tennessee in their previous contest Saturday night. Rice was blown out 56-23 at home by Charlotte in their most recent contest Saturday. In the all-time series between the programs, Rice owns a 15-9 advantage though it was UTEP that picked up a 38-28 home victory in the most recent matchup back on November 20, 2021. Which school earns their fifth win of the season? We break it down.

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UTEP Miners Looking to Even Record

UTEP had their chances but couldn’t generate the offensive production necessary to take care of business against Middle Tennessee at home Saturday night. The Miners dropped to 4-5 overall on the season and stand 2-3 in Conference USA action. Against Middle Tennessee, UTEP rallied from a 10-0 deficit after the opening quarter to tie the game at 10 at halftime. In the second half, the Miners couldn’t sustain their offense and it cost them. Trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter, UTEP gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass one play after closing the gap to four and couldn’t answer. UTEP was outgained 378-292 in total offense, gave up 20 first downs while picking up 19 and both teams turned the ball over once. The offensive disadvantage overshadowed the Miners’ 32:33 to 27:27 edge in time of possession.

The Miners come into this contest 85th in the FBS in passing offense with 224.2 yards per game through the air and 77th in rushing offense with 140.4 yards per game. UTEP is only 109th in scoring offense with an average of 21.3 points per contest and 76th in scoring defense as they allow an average of 27.4 points per game. Gavin Hardison has hit 156 of 297 passes for 1,941 yards with 10 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Calvin Brownholtz is seven of 11 for 77 yards with two interceptions in his limited action. Ronald Awatt is the second-leading ground gainer for the Miners with 124 carries for 538 yards and two scores. Deion Hankins (110 carries, team-high 547 yards, two TD) is also in the mix to provide veteran experience in the backfield. Tyrin Smith leads the team with 56 receptions for 803 yards plus five scores. Reynaldo Flores (42 grabs, 472 yards, TD), Kelly Arkharaiyi (15 catches, 138 yards) and Jeremiah Ballard (10 grabs, 118 yards, TD) are reliable secondary targets in the passing game. Gavin Baechle has hit all 19 extra point attempts and 17 of 18 field goal attempts with a long of 54 this season.

Rice Owls Hoping to Rebound from Blowout

Rice continued their run of alternating wins and losses as they couldn’t build off their win against Louisiana Tech by getting thrashed by Charlotte at home. The Owls dropped to 4-4 on the season overall and are 2-2 in Conference USA action entering this game. Against Charlotte, Rice led 14-7 after one quarter and 17-14 midway through the second before the wheels fell off. The Owls gave up 35 unanswered points and were outscored 42-6 over the final 36 minutes to end up getting blown out. Rice lost the total offense battle 514-370, gave up 25 first downs while allowing 20 and lost time of possession by a 31:57 to 28:03 margin. They also committed the lone turnover in the contest.

The Owls are 89th in the nation in passing offense with 222 yards per contest while they are 70th in rushing offense with 149.1 yards per game. Rice is 67th of the 131 teams in the FBS to play this season in scoring offense with 29.1 points per game while they are 117th in the country by allowing 33.6 points per contest. TJ McMahon has completed 131 of 224 passes for 1,703 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He adds 146 yards and two scores on the ground. Wiley Green is eight of 13 for 69 yards and an interception while Shawqi Itraish is one of two for four yards. Ari Broussard is the team’s second-leading rusher with 91 carries for 251 yards and nine scores on the season. Cameron Montgomery (51 carries, team-high 333 yards), Juma Otaviano (22 carries, 112 yards, TD), Dean Connors (21 carries, 103 yards) and Uriah West (29 carries, 90 yards) are also in the mix. Luke McCaffrey leads the team with 47 catches for 613 yards and six scores on the year. Bradley Rozner (27 receptions, 579 yards, seven TD), Isaiah Esdale (21 grabs, 255 yards) and Jack Bradley (18 receptions, 140 yards, TD) are good secondary targets. Christian VanSickle has booted all 27 extra point attempts and six of six field goal tries with a long of 43 this season.

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Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


This one is an interesting clash of a couple of teams from the Lone Star State who are hovering around the .500 mark on the season. Both teams like to go to the air but they aren’t the most efficient when it comes to production. Hardison is completing only 52.5% of his throws while McMahon has thrown double-digit interceptions on the year. Turnovers have been a problem for both teams as UTEP has turned it over 18 times in nine games while Rice is right behind them with 17 turnovers in eight contests. The difference in this game may well be the run game: UTEP has a pair of guys that have run for at least 500 yards on the season, which gives them a component that the Owls lack. That edge, coupled with some better defensive work, gives the advantage to the Miners, even as the visiting team.

Prediction: UTEP Miners +3.5

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:


We’ve got a distinct clash of styles here in relation to the total this season. UTEP has stayed under the number in seven of their nine games on the year. With that said, the Miners have seen both their overs come on the road, where the over is 2-2 this season. More interesting is the fact that their two road unders came by just half a point at both Oklahoma (58 points vs. a 58.5-point number) and New Mexico (37 points vs. a 37.5-point number) this season. Rice has gone over the number in seven of their eight games on the year. The Owls have eclipsed the number in all four of their home games. Seeing how the over has hit in four of the last five matchups between the teams, look for another offensive bonanza here that pushes past the total.

Prediction: Over 48

Written By Chris King , "Chris King"

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.