gtpdd’s UTEP Preview

Tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 PM Central, the Bulldogs come home (get it? it’s Homecoming!) to take on the Miners of UTEP. But before you watch the game, you need to know a few things. That’s where we come in!

How to Watch

This game is on ESPN+. If you don’t know what ESPN+ is by now…. I can’t really help you. Pony up the $4.99 and watch the game on a fairly decent streaming platform. I still don’t understand why there’s no ESPN+ support on the WatchESPN app for Xbox, but at least it’s on the Roku app. Anyway, that’s how to watch the game this week.

Previous Records

UTEP has laid an egg for the last season and a half, and Tech is 4 and 2.

Other People’s Predictions

  • ESPN FPI: Tech has a 95.2% chance to win.
  • Massey: Tech wins, 34-7
  • Vegas (OddsShark): Tech wins by 23.5 points
  • BleedTechBlue: Tech wins, 48-17
  • S&P+: Tech wins, 37-17

What to Watch For

Evan: The key matchup in tomorrow afternoon’s game is Tech’s linebacking corps play against the running game. As Nathan astutely pointed out over in his Secret Weapon post over on BTB, the UTEP running game is a little different than anything Tech has see so far this season.

The Miners’ leading rusher isn’t one of their running backs–that would be too simple! That title goes to Junior Quarterback Kai Locksley, who currently leads the team in attempts and rushing yards. He’s run the ball 82 times for 457 yards, which is not too shabby. Tack on Quadraiz Wadley’s 64 rushes for 358 yards, and you’ve got the makings of a halfway decent ground game.

The good news is that Tech’s linebacking corps–led by Dae’Von Washington and Collin Scott–has been the strongest unit on the Bulldog defense for most of 2018. According to S&P+, those two have caused 5.5 tackles for loss and 10 run stuffs thus far this season; and are holding opponents to under 4 yards per play when they are involved in the tackle.

When a quarterback is involved in the running game, it’s vital for the opposing linebackers to be quick and sure-footed in their decision-making and tackling. If Washington and Scott can continue their stellar play, I expect the Dogs to hold the Miners below their 159 rushing yards per game average.

Random Factoid

Evan: The University of Texas at El Paso was founded in 1914 as the State School of Mines and Metallurgy. I could go through all of the name changes and such with you, but that’s no fun. What I want to talk about today is architecture. “But wait… I thought you said this was going to be fun?” Well, if you don’t think architectural stylings from the early 20th Century are fun, I’m not sure we can be friends.

You see, UTEP’s original Dean, Dean Worrell, had a wife who was fascinated by the architectural styles of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Kathleen Worrell loved the architecture so much that she proposed designing the entire campus in the style of Bhutan’s Buddhist temples and monasteries.

We’re all familiar with the ol’ Land of the Thunder Dragon, of course, so I don’t need to tell you that Bhutan’s primary architectural style is called Dzong. Buildings are massive, with high outer walls surrounding courtyards, temples, offices, and bedrooms for monks. That’s right, UTEP’s campus is designed with monks in mind.

Other distinctive features of Dzong include having a red ochre stripe near the tops of walls, and sometimes accentuating that earthy red tone with golden circles; flared, unique roofs, massive doorways made of wood or iron, and interior courtyards brightly colors with Buddhist themed art.

But that’s enough about styles, let’s see some pictures and compare Dzongs:

The buildings above are a perfect example of Bhutanese Dzong, with flared roof, red ochre strip, and golden accents. Now let’s look at one of UTEP’s early buildings, Graham Hall:

UTEPbhutan3
This is a building in Not Bhutan

I see what they were trying to do, but it doesn’t quite have the same panache that the Bhutanese building has.

Luckily, UTEP decided to stick with this style for their campus. Let’s see if they’ve gotten any better over the years:

UTEPbhutan4

Yep, they’ve gotten better. This is UTEP’s new Academic Services Building. The architects decided to make it flashier than the simplistic older buildings on campus, which I’d say was a good decision.

So now that we’ve seen some examples and compared Dzongs, let’s talk about the best part of this story. The dean’s wife, Kathleen Worrell, decided to make the whole campus based on Bhutan’s architecture. Wow, she must have really loved Bhutan. I bet she went on a trip that changed her life and perspectives in ways that few of us can truly comprehend. She probably had a spiritual awakening that impacted not only her life, but the lives of everyone she came into contact with….

Nope, she read about Bhutan’s Dzong style in National Geographic.

Yup. UTEP’s campus is based entirely on an article in National Geographic.

NCAA 14 Sim

Tech started their first possession with a TD after a UTEP punt, but the Bulldogs failed to put the game out of reach. Tech led 28-14 late in the 4th quarter, but a long pass set up a a touchdown for the Miners, cutting their deficit to seven.

With 1:40 and two timeouts remaining, UTEP elected  to go for the onside kick. The ball only traveled four yards, but was touched by a Bulldog and recovered by a Miner. UTEP then drove down the field (with a couple more long pass plays) to set up a touchdown that tied the game as time expired. After the extra point, it was time for overtime.

UTEP won the toss, so Tech had the first possession. The Bulldogs had no problem driving down the short field and scoring the touchdown. On the Miners’ possession, a series of running plays gave the visitors a 1st and Goal at the 5. Four plays later, Locksley was sacked, ending the game.

Tech won, 35-28

Hot Taeks

Josh: Due to weather and homecoming activities, the Joe will be at 25% capacity after halftime.

Evan: Westin Elliot will see action in the game for the first time in 2018.

Nathan: This game is going to be close. Not in a “UTEP scores a couple garbage time TDs” kinda way, but in a “whoever has the ball last wins” kinda game.

Final Predictions

Evan: UTEP is bad, guys. Hot take there, I know. This game could be labelled a potential “trap” under conventional wisdom: Tech is coming off a big win against another bad team in UTSA. What’s there to worry about here? The bad news for the Miners is that Tech already had their Baffling Conference Loss™ at home against UAB. Not that the Blazers are anywhere near as bad as UTEP–the Blazers aren’t bad at all. It’s just that Tech already got the kick in the pants they needed by playing a bad game at home. Tech will do what it needs to do and dominate the Miners at home on Homecoming Saturday.

Tech wins, 41-10

Josh: Like Evan said, UTEP is bad. Like, really bad. Like, ranked under several FCS teams bad. Normally, I’d say that we would play down to our opponent and only squeak by, like we have in the past against UTEP, but since the game is in Ruston and it is Homecoming, I think the Bulldogs will eviscerate the Miners this Saturday.

Tech wins, 56-14

Nathan: UTEP is not bad. Are they a good team? No, but they aren’t as bad as the 0-12 team that wore the same uniform last year. UTEP also finds most success on the ground, an area Tech has strugged (as evidenced by the UAB game). I don’t think Tech will lose, but I definitely think the Miners will beat the spread.

Tech wins, 24-17

 

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