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UTEP football favored in match up versus New Mexico

Annabella Mireles
UTEP will play the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at UNM’s stadium.

After its first win against New Mexico State University (NMSU) (0-3), the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) (1-2) head up to Albuquerque, New Mexico to face the University of New Mexico (UNM) (1-1). 

UNM Lobos faced both the Maine Black Bears (0-2) and the Boise State Broncos (1-1) so far this season. Against the Black Bears, UNM demolished Maine in virtually every metric, noting 437 all-purpose yards which resulted in two passing touchdowns from senior quarterback Miles Kendrick and four rushing touchdowns by the UNM running back core, ultimately leaving the final score at Maine 0, UNM 41. 

The following week presented a much more difficult opponent against a Mountain West rival, Boise State. The Lobos were limited to only 123 yards on offense struggling to muster a successful scoring drive for three quarters, only scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of the match up. Kendrick did not look the same this past week, leaving the game with a 6.3 Quarterback Rating (QBR). UNM lost this game 31-14. 

UNM are struggling to avoid penalties this season. Versus Maine, the Lobos committed nine penalties for a whopping 90 yards. Against Boise State, UNM fared slightly better, only losing 39 yards to seven penalties. If UNM continues to commit penalties, the Lobos will struggle to find any momentum against the UTEP defense. 

UTEP is coming off their first win of the season against I-10 rival, NMSU, in an even match. UTEP recorded 24 total yards less than NMSU, 274 yards to NMSU’s 298 yards. NMSU had their way with the UTEP defensive line, noting nearly 200 rushing yards. NMSU did fail to close drives costing them a loss and leaving the final score at NMSU 13, UTEP 20. 

It is hard to argue that UTEP had a great showing against a winless NMSU team. Against the Aggies, junior quarterback Gavin Hardison threw for only one touchdown, a pass to sophomore wideout Tyrin Smith, and only completed 13 of 26 passes for only 166 yards posting a 29.1 QBR. All things considered, senior running back Ronald Awatt had a productive game rushing for 115 yards over 21 carries and scoring a rushing touchdown for the Miners. 

If the Miners offense can focus on expanding on an already-proven running game against a solid UNM defense, while relying less on an unproductive Hardison, they can most likely pull off a win, not just against the Lobos, but later in the season. The defensive line must also tighten up and stop the rushing attack at the line, as mentioned in previous weeks. 

During a Sept. 12 press conference, UTEP Football Head Coach Dana Dimel commented on Hardison’s lackluster performance against NMSU.  

“Last weekend in the second half, (Hardison) just didn’t do the things he’d been doing in the previous five, six quarters of play leading up to that second half,” Dimel said. “I just think he was a little bit off in the second half and he’s just too good of a player to be off. … We need him to dominate and be precise.” 

The last time these two schools met was Sept. 25, 2021, where the Miners beat UNM 20-13. UNM leads this series 43–33–3.   

UTEP versus UNM will be in Albuquerque New Mexico at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at University Stadium and will air on the Mountain West Network and 95.5 KLAQ.   

Stats provided by UTEP Athletics, UNM Athletics, Maine Athletics, Bosie State Athletics, and NMSU Athletics.  

My prediction:  

UNM pull an upset beating the Miners in a slugfest with a final score of UTEP 18, UNM 21. Due to Dimel’s insistence on the passing game, the Miners will struggle to score. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributors
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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UTEP football favored in match up versus New Mexico