Texas-El Paso (1-5) at Tulsa (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, October 11, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: H.A. Chapman Stadium (30,000) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: Fox Sports Network. Home Record: UTEP 1-2, Tulsa 3-0. Away Record: UTEP 0-3, Tulsa 2-1. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-0, Tulsa 0-0. Conference Record: UTEP 0-2, Tulsa 3-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 12-8.
GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane look to keep their perfect league record intact as they host the Texas-El Paso Miners at H.A. Chapman Stadium for a Conference USA showdown.
The Miners will be attempting to end a three-game losing streak in this one. UTEP was shutout, 17-0, by SMU last week as its offense was completely halted by the Mustangs. The program has not been 1-5 since 2002. Coach Mike Price has his work cut out for him as the Miners are 6-23 all-time in C-USA road games. Price is 3-5 in his career against the Golden Hurricane.
Coach Bill Blankenship is a perfect 1-0 versus UTEP after winning last season's meeting in his first year at the helm of the program. Blankenship's squad lost 38-23 in its season opener to Iowa State, but has since reeled off five straight victories. The most recent triumph was an impressive 45-38 win over the Marshall Thundering Herd in Huntington.
The Golden Hurricane hold a 12-8 lead in their all-time series with UTEP. Tulsa cruised to a 57-28 victory in last season's encounter.
The Miners scored 83 points in their three previous games before being shutout by SMU. The usually steady signal caller, Nick Lamaison, has been in a slump in recent weeks. Lamaison has completed just 18-of-50 passing attempts and thrown five interceptions in his past two outings.
UTEP's passing game relies heavily on the wideout tandem of Mike Edwards and Jordan Leslie. Edwards has a team-leading total of 465 yards with three touchdowns on 28 receptions. Leslie is averaging 61.5 receiving yards per contest through six games.
The rushing attack of the Miners revolves around Nathan Jeffery, who led the team with 67 rushing yards last week. Jeffery has gained 387 yards this season, but he has still failed to find the end zone.
Despite having one of the most difficult schedules to this point with opponents such as Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Wisconsin, UTEP has been decent defensively. The Miners are great at dislodging the ball from opposing ball carriers and already have forced 12 fumbles through six games. They managed to record three interceptions in last week's loss.
Twenty different players have recorded at least 10 tackles on the year for UTEP. Josh Fely (47), DeShawn Grayson (39), and Aubrey Alexius (38) have stood out as the key components. Horace Miller is a threatening pass rusher up front with a team-best five sacks, which is tied for the conference lead.
Tulsa has the top scoring offense in the C-USA (12th in the FBS) with an average of 42.5 points per contest. Although the Golden Hurricane usually a employ balanced attack, they turned to the rushing attack last week and gained 250 yards on the ground to get past Marshall.
With the rushing game at its finest, Cody Green was not asked to do too much against the Thundering Herd. Green ended up completing 9-of-17 attempts for 90 yards and a touchdown. After going 4-0 at Nebraska before transferring to Tulsa, Green now has a 9-1 record while starting under center.
Green has plenty of potential and time to develop with the strong three-headed rushing attack of Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts, and Alex Singleton shredding defenses. Last week, Singleton rushed for three touchdowns, while Watts gained a team-best 111 yards. Douglas is the seventh-leading rusher in the C-USA with 405 yards.
Keyarris Garrett is a big bodied receiver used often in Tulsa's passing game. Garrett leads the team with 314 yards and four touchdowns on 23 catches. Jordan James is second on the squad with 239 yards.
Not only is Tulsa's offense arguably the best in the C-USA, its defensive unit is second in the league in total defense with an allowed average of only 377.0 yards per contest. The Golden Hurricane also lead the FBS in sacks (4.5 per game) and tackles for loss (9.8 per game).
Tulsa is successful defensively due to its experienced core. Dexter McCoil, DeAundre Brown, and Shawn Jackson all have recorded 200 career tackles, and Demarco Nelson comes into this one with 194 career stops.
SMU's defense hardly compares to the aggressive and stifling unit of Tulsa. UTEP does not have the firepower needed to score against the Golden Hurricane. Lamaison needs to protect the ball much better for the Miners to have a remote shot of an upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 34, Texas-El Paso 10
10/10 10:48:11 ET