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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Bowl Stadium (51,500) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Tulane 1-3, UTEP 1-2. Away Record: Tulane 0-2, UTEP 0-4. Neutral Record: Tulane 0-0, UTEP 0-0. Conference Record: Tulane 1-1, UTEP 0-3. Series Record: Texas-El Paso leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: Fresh off a win that snapped the nation's longest losing streak, the Tulane Green Wave will try to keep the momentum going when it faces another Conference USA bottom-dweller in the Texas-El Paso Miners.
After losing 15 straight games dating back to last September, Tulane finally found the win column last week with a 27-26 home victory over SMU. With a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute, it marked the first time the Green Wave have rallied to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit since defeating Rice on Nov. 13, 2010, 54-49.
Since winning on Sept. 15 at home versus New Mexico State (41-28), UTEP has lost four in a row, its second-longest losing streak in Mike Price's seven years as head coach. With a 33-11 road loss to Tulsa on Oct. 11, the Miners fell to 0-3 in conference play for the first time since 1996, a year when they finished 0-8 in the league.
UTEP holds a slight advantage in the all-time series with Tulane, 4-3. Prior to losing last season's matchup (44-7), the Green Wave had won three straight over the Miners.
Even with a 27-point outburst against SMU, Tulane still boasts the worst offense in the FBS, ranking last among all qualifying teams in both points (12.0) and total yards per game (219.5).
Ryan Griffin missed the previous three games with a shoulder injury but returned last week with a vengeance, throwing for a season-high 302 yards and three touchdowns in the win. His replacements did not fare well in his absence (three TDs, eight INTs), so hopefully the offense will regain some continuity with Griffin back under center.
Ryan Grant has caught 25 balls for 359 yards to lead the team and he's also added a pair of touchdowns. Marc Edwards (eight catches, 139 yards) did most of his damage in just two catches against SMU with 96 yards and a score.
The Green Wave cannot run the ball with any consistency, averaging a lowly 0.8 yards per carry. Rob Kelley (48 carries, 149 yards) doesn't have a rushing touchdown, but he has hit pay dirt three times as a receiver (18 catches, 148 yards).
The TU defense (39.7 ppg, 479.7 ypg) has had difficulty stopping anyone, but the unit showed some promise last week with three sacks and an interception.
Darion Moore recorded 13 tackles against SMU to add to his team-high of 43. Austen Jacks can penetrate the line of scrimmage with 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Saying that UTEP has shown more signs of life on offense than Tulane to this point in the campaign is hardly a compliment, as it scores just 16.1 ppg.
Nick Lamaison has seen the majority of the snaps under center, and while he's thrown eight touchdown passes, his completion percentage (.505), yards per game (172) and interceptions (five) leave much to be desired. Carson Meger took over for Lamaison in the Tulsa game, completing 16-of-23 passes for 257 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
UTEP has one of the best receiving duos in C-USA in Jordan Leslie (37 receptions, 587 yards, four TDs) and Michael Edwards (28 receptions, 464 yards, three TDs). Both players average more than 70 yards receiving per game. The last time the team had a pair of players accomplish that feat was in 2000.
Nathan Jeffery is the Miners' lead back with 89 carries for 410 yards, but he has yet to score a touchdown. .
The Miners defense (27.9 ppg) has been consistently mediocre, keeping five of seven opponents under 30 points, with Wisconsin (37) the only team surpassing 35.
Josh Fely is among the conference leaders in tackles with 58 and he also has four pass break ups and two QB hurries. Shane Huhn has two interceptions, and Horace Miller has five of the team's 11 sacks.
Tulane is certainly feeling better about itself right now than it did this time last week, and with Griffin under center, it is better prepared to perform at a higher level. Still, the Green Wave simply do not have much talent on either side of the ball and are not ready to win games on the road, even against a struggling team like UTEP.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas El-Paso 34, Tulane 20
10/17 10:43:44 ET
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