Nevada Heavy Favorites Tonight Against UTEP
As the UTEP (1-1) football team returns to the Sun Bowl tonight to face Nevada (2-1), the Miners are not popular among the oddsmakers is Las Vegas. In fact, the Wolfpack are currently 13.5 point favorites in their second road game of the season. It is not a surprise that UTEP is picked to lose by almost two touchdowns at home. Their only win came against FCS Houston Baptist, and the Miners hung on for the 36-34 win. It is interesting to note that the Huskies won their next two games since that two-point loss to UTEP.
Other than a game to forget against Oregon when their defense gave up seven touchdown passes and 77 total points, Nevada has been a balanced team on both sides of the ball. Their quarterback is freshman Carson Strong who played his best game of the young season against Purdue. Since then, he has thrown four interceptions without a touchdown pass. The Miners defense will need to pressure Strong tonight and try and force more turnovers, which has been Nevada's biggest weakness this season.
On the ground, the combination of sophomore Toa Taua and senior Jaxson Kincaide have combined for 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both backs split the workload at running back and UTEP will need to keep them in check. Nevada will be the first offense the Miners will face this season that does not operate on an up tempo system. That should play into the hands of Defensive Coordinator Mike Cox.
Even if the UTEP defense does their job again tonight, the biggest question will be their offense. Head Coach Dana Dimel announced on Monday that Brandon Jones will start at quarterback but he expects Kai Locksley to play as well. Since both signal callers have not yet taken control of the job, Coach Dimel will continue to alternate them until one seizes the position for good. Although Nevada's pass defense gave up four touchdowns against Purdue but they played their best game of the season last week against Weber State. They only surrendered 137 total yards including 57 in the air on 6 of 21 passes and one score. The Miners will need to move the ball early and show that they can score on the Nevada defense if they are going to have a chance to win their second game of the season.