Texas-El Paso (3-3) at Texas-San Antonio (2-5) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alamodome (72,000) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: Sinclair, ASN. Home Record: UTEP 2-1, UTSA 1-2. Away Record: UTEP 1-2, UTSA 1-3. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: UTEP 1-1, UTSA 1-2. Series Record: Texas-San Antonio leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: An in-state rivalry will continue to be constructed on Saturday, as the Texas-El Paso Miners clash with the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in a Conference USA tilt at the Alamodome.
UTEP has been idle since posting a 42-35 victory over Old Dominion on Oct. 11. The win ended a two-game losing streak for the Miners and was their first in two tries against league competition. They are 3-3 overall, with a 1-2 record away from home.
UTSA was in action last weekend, as it paid a visit to Louisiana Tech. The Roadrunners returned home with a 27-20 setback, dropping them to 2-5 overall and just 1-5 since their stunning 27-7 victory over Houston in the season opener. The Roadrunners are 1-2 both at home and in league play.
This could turn into an intriguing regional rivalry in C-USA, although there is very little history between the programs at the moment. They met for the first time last season in El Paso, where the Roadrunners ran away with a 32-13 victory.
In their win over Old Dominion, UTEP put forth a fine offensive effort, racking up 486 yards of total offense, 23 first downs as well as a 10-of-16 success rate on third down. The Miners are one of the better teams in the conference on third down, ranking fourth in the league (.448), however, they are further down the rankings in both total offense (374.8 ypg) and scoring offense (28.7 ppg).
Former Texas A&M quarterback Jameill Showers has held down the starting quarterback job for UTEP over the last few seasons. His 2014 campaign has been rather mediocre at best, as he has completed only 57.2 percent of his pass attempts for a mere 854 yards. He is 10th in the league in passing yards, although he does have twice as many TD passes (eight) as interceptions (four). While a threat to run, Showers has not been all that productive on the ground either, with just 113 yards and a score.
Showers doesn't need to be a force on the ground, however, considering Aaron Jones has been an absolute monster out of the backfield. Jones has racked up 762 yards and seven touchdowns on 125 carries. He is second in the conference in rushing yards, third in carries and tied for fourth in touchdowns. He managed a solid 103 yards on 18 attempts against Old Dominion, while Josh Bell went off for 76 yards and three scores.
Jones is not only the team's leading rusher, but also the top receiver, at least in terms of receptions. He has brought in a team-high 17 balls for only 97 yards and a touchdown. Ian Hamilton (14 receptions, 208 yards, two TDs) is the only player on the roster with more than 200 yards through the air.
UTEP has been one of the poorest defensive clubs in the conference, especially in terms of points allowed. The Roadrunners are next-to-last in scoring defense (37.7 ppg), while letting up 442.8 yards of total offense, on average, each week.
Luckily for the Miners, UTSA is not exactly an offensive juggernaut. The Roadrunners are only averaging 20.7 points and a measly 316.1 yards per game.
Due to injury as well as some pretty bad play, the quarterback position has been a bit of a revolving door for the Roadrunners. Tucker Carter, Austin Robinson and Blake Bogenschutz have all had their chances. Bogenschutz is out indefinitely with a hand injury, so that leaves Carter and Robinson to carry the load.
Carter was the starter to begin the season, but inconsistent play and turnovers cost him the job. Robinson has taken the majority of the snaps in the last two weeks and has not fared much better, completing a solid 69.6 percent of his pass attempts, but for only 282 yards and a pair of interceptions. He has also been sacked five times.
Kam Jones (19 receptions, 154 yards) and Aaron Grubb (16 receptions, 112 yards) are the leading receivers on the roster, but both are averaging less than nine yards per reception. The loss of tight end David Morgan II (14 receptions, 196 yards, TD) for the last three games with a foot injury has further hampered any hope for a potent passing attack.
The running game has not been all that productive either, with the Roadrunners averaging only 3.1 yards per carry. Jarveon Williams (314 yards, three TDS) and David Glasco II (268 yards, four TDs) are the top ball-carriers, but they are each averaging less than 50 yards per game. Robinson has tallied 122 yards and a score on the ground in four games, adding a bit of versatility to the attack.
What has kept UTSA competitive, and just barely so at that, is its defense. The Roadrunners are allowing only 350.7 ypg, while yielding 25.4 ppg. They rank third in the conference in each category.
Based on records alone, UTEP is the superior team in this matchup. However, a closer examination of the two squads tips the scales in favor of UTSA, which may not be an offensive power, but has the defensive chops to shut down a rather punchless UTEP squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-San Antonio 27, Texas-El Paso 20Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 24, 7 p.m. (ET)