The Miners of the University of Texas El Paso travel to Tennessee for a Week 3 meeting at Neyland Stadium. It’s an early season challenge for UTEP as they just hope to stage a monumental upset against the Tennessee Volunteers. While the Vols are not the class of the SEC, Tennessee is going to be an uptick in talent over Northern Arizona and UNLV. UTEP lost both of those games by scores of 30-10 and 52-24.
The Northern Arizona loss is pretty ugly, the UNLV loss is understandable, but it still could have been better for them. This is the first meeting between the two schools since 1990. Tennessee blew the Miners out by a score of 56-0. Not much has changed since that point, as UTEP are still trying to put a program together, while Tennessee are a college football powerhouse. Maybe not a powerhouse in the SEC, but a small school like UTEP certainly see them that way.
Tennessee opened the season against one of the best offenses in college football, and maybe the best quarterback in the nation, Will Grier. West Virginia undressed the Vols for a final score of 40-14. Tim Jordan played well, though, rushing for 118 yards and a score. Quarterback, Jarrett Guarantano, didn’t play a bad game either, with 172 yards and a touchdown on 76 percent completions. They just ran into a really good West Virginia team that is considerably better than them right now. Tennessee had a nice opportunity to put everything together for a tune-up against East Tennessee State in a 59-3 victory. Jeremy Banks led the way with 2 scores on the ground for the Vols.
Tennessee had a down season in 2017 with a 4-8 record and it was the end of the line for Butch Jones following that. Fans have been calling for Jones to get fired a few years ago and he finally ran out of slack. Jeremy Pruitt inherited a decent team, but they there is still a rebuilding process going on. In their current capacity, they aren’t competing against the top dogs in the SEC.
They might win some games at the FCS level, but even then, they’d likely have to fight for that. UTEP is anything but a top dog in any shape or form in any conference. They didn’t win a game in 2017 with a record of 0-12 and are still trying to find their first bowl win since 1967. They bring back a roster in 2018 who will struggle, but might show small steps forward. Head below for our free UTEP vs. Tennessee pick for early Saturday in Week 3 of the college football schedule.
UTEP Miners vs. Tennessee Volunteers NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Tennessee -30.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
UTEP vs. Tennessee Pick:
Whether you look at the 2017 UTEP Miners from the offensive side of the ball or defensive, they were a team that didn’t belong in the FBS. If we’re to note one main issue, though, it has to fall with the putrid offense. UTEP finished dead last offensively out of 130 teams in the FBS. They averaged just 231 yards per game and scored a paltry 11.8 points per game. Some good high school teams would have likely beaten that UTEP team.
UTEP went out and found a new quarterback, landing on Iowa Western transfer, Kai Locksley. Locksley won NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors, but this is a considerable improvement in talent from the NJCAA. Locksley struggled against Northern Arizona in his debut, as he passed for 120 yards with an interception. He couldn’t handle UNLV either, struggling to find a rhythm and completing just 6-of-19 passes for 57 yards. His backup, Ryan Metz, didn’t do any better with 66 yards and an interception. Locksley did find room to run, though, as he ran for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Tennessee aren’t an elite SEC defense up there with Alabama and LSU, but this is still going to be the best defense they’ve faced by a long shot. The Vols finished 81st in 2017 with 413 yards per game. Pruitt is regarded as a defensive minded head coach and fixing the defense is his first chore at Tennessee. They have experience up-front, but the Vols are dealing with inexperienced corners. Nevertheless, UTEP has nothing to exploit the secondary like West Virginia and Grier did in Week 1. The Miners are likely going to make this defensive unit look like Alabama on Saturday afternoon.
Tennessee outgained East Tennessee by 220 yards last week after West Virginia topped them by 246 yards the week prior. Expect to see Tennessee outgain UTEP by a significant margin in this one, something similar to what they did last week. If East Tennessee is a cupcake, then UTEP is a creampuff opponent. I don’t expect the Vols’ offense to be too exotic in this game. They’ll steadily put together drives, wearing out the UTEP defense for 4 quarters. Locksley goes from playing quarterback against NJCAA teams, to Northern Arizona, UNLV, and now he has a SEC defense on the road on Saturday. Look for a 48-10 or 45-7 win for Tennessee to cover the big number in this one.