2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - UTEP at South Florida
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Sept. 24 at South Florida 52 … UTEP 24
CFN Analysis: The offense picked up where it left off against Florida A&M, and it's hitting its stride at just the right time with Big Eat play and a trip to Pitt coming up on Thursday. B.J. Daniels is having a special year and was nearly perfect with 130 rushing yards and a score, highlighted by his 71-yard dash, and he threw for 202 yards and two scores. The pass rush continues to be great and the takeaways continue to come with three picks helping make this a blowout. The team couldn't be playing any better.
UTEP doesn't have an efficient passing game and can't run the ball, but Carson Meger was able to put up some decent yards with 240 yards and two touchdown passes. But he also threw three picks, and with the way the South Florida offense was ripping off yards in chunks, UTEP needed to be perfect. The turnovers have to stop, the offensive line has to be far better in all areas, and the defensive front has to be far stronger against the run. Next week, though, it'll be all about the shootout with Houston coming to El Paso. The pass rush has been good, and it'll need to get to Case Keenum early and often to have a shot.
(AP) TAMPA, Fla. -- UTEP is still on a streak of futility against Top 25 opponents, though Mike Price felt the Miners represented themselves well against No. 18 South Florida.
"We shouldn't be discouraged. They played better than we did, and maybe they're a better team than we are," Price said after Saturday night's 52-24 loss to the Bulls. "The score is that way because they were playing their guys quite a bit."
That's because the Miners (2-2) did enough offensively to remain within two touchdowns until USF (4-0) scored twice late.
"Their quarterback earns his scholarship, I tell you that. I think he's a tremendous player, a tremendous sportsman," Price said of the Bulls' B.J. Daniels. "I can tell that the way he never got rattled, even though we were hitting him pretty good at times. He's one tough player."
Daniels threw for 202 yards and ran for 130 as UTEP fell to 4-48 all-time against ranked opponents, including 1-31 on the road. They've lost 26 straight away from home against Top 25 teams since upsetting Arizona State in 1974. The Miners also fell to 0-21 against BCS conference members.
"We had some opportunities in the third quarter, and we didn't take advantage of it," Price said. "We didn't take advantage of the opportunities in the red zone offensively. We got athleted out in a couple of things, and then they're really good."
Daniels scored on a 71-yard run on the Bulls' second offensive play and threw touchdown passes of 54 and 18 yards to Lindsey Lamar in the second half. The junior's long TD burst was the fourth-longest in USF's relatively brief football history, and receiver Victor Marc's 67-yard scoring run later in the opening quarter was the fifth-longest.
"We put the ball in the end zone. That's the most important thing," Daniels said. "We have a lot of guys who can do different things."
Coach Skip Holtz had encouraging news on USF punt returner Terrence Mitchell, who was carted off the field in the fourth quarter after tackling UTEP punter Ian Campbell at the end of a 19-yard run on a fake.
The coach said Mitchell, who launched himself with head lowered and appeared to hit Campbell with his shoulder, did not suffer a neck injury.
"They're worried about a concussion. The injury doesn't appear to be as severe as it appeared on the field," Holtz said. "He's responding really positively right now."
Mitchell remained on the ground in front of the USF bench for several minutes while receiving medical attention. He was strapped to a stretcher as a precaution, carted off and taken to a nearby hospital.
"I definitely hope he's fine. ... I saw him. I wasn't going to try to juke him. I was just going to try to run right through him," Campbell said. "Unfortunately, I think he lowered his head a little too much and he caught my shoulder pad."
UTEP played without several key players sidelined with injuries, including starting quarterback Nick Lamaison, safety Travaun Nixon and defensive lineman Germard Reed.
Carson Meger, one of three quarterbacks who have started games for the Miners this season, completed 26 of 40 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore was intercepted three times, with the last returned 30 yards by linebacker Sam Barrington for the USF's final touchdown.
"Obviously, we came down here to play a game and win a game, and we didn't get that done. But they're a heck of a team," Meger said. "They're not ranked 18th in the nation for nothing. I thought we did some good things and some bad things. As a quarterback you always feel like you could do things a little bit better, but it just didn't happen for us."
Daniels, who completed 15 of 24 passes, led long TD drives on USF's first four possessions. Maikon Bonani kicked a 38-yard field goal the next time the Bulls got the ball, building a 31-14 lead.
UTEP wasn't quite as successful offensively, but the Miners did move the ball effectively against a USF defense that had been barely tested since yielding 508 yards during a 23-20 season-opening win at Notre Dame.
Leilyon Myers scored on a 4-yard run, Meger threw a 24-yard TD pass to Anthony McGhee to finish a nine-play, 88-yard march and Dakota Warren capped a 15-play, six-minute drive with a 24-yard field goal for UTEP, which gained 234 yards in the opening half and finished with 339.
Meger threw a 25-yard TD pass to Kevin Perry late in the third quarter.
"We hustled. We played very hard. We don't give up on our team, obviously," Price said. "I was very pleased with the job Carson Meger did for not having reps and being kind of our third-string guy going into the year."
A week after rolling up a Big East-record 745 yards of total offense during a 70-17 rout of Florida A&M, USA gained 575 -- 373 on the ground -- against UTEP, which expects Nixon (knee) and Reed (concussion) to return on defense for next week's Conference USA matchup against Houston.
UTEP (2-1) at South Florida (3-0) Sept. 24, 7:00
Here's The Deal … South Florida is still a hot commodity, but back-to-back routs of Ball State and Florida A&M have made that opening day win over Notre Dame seem much further away than just three weeks ago. The Bulls have picked up a slew of confidence and used plenty of young players in the process, but the buzz surrounding the program has quieted down for the time being.
Do not expect a visit from UTEP to change the situation. The Miners are 2-1 under head coach Mike Price because the schedule has been conducive to a fast start. They've defeated Stony Brook and New Mexico State—barely—but lost its one litmus test with SMU. UTEP needs a rallying point in the worst, which South Florida is capable of becoming now that it's ranked and far less anonymous than in recent seasons.
Why UTEP Might Win: Price promised a more physical defense this season. It turns out that he wasn't just posturing and whipping up the fan base. His Miners rank third in Conference USA in scoring defense and sacks, rarities in El Paso. The pressure and stinginess have been team efforts, though the team's best defenders reside in the back seven. Defensive backs Travaun Nixon and DeShawn Grayson, and linebackers Jeremy Springer and Royzell Smith are athletes who can make stops in the backfield and from sideline to sideline.
Why South Florida Might Win: As the Bulls offense gains a head of steam, the Miners attack gains dust. UTEP is struggling badly to move the ball, a situation that won't be remedied by a trip to Tampa. South Florida is loaded with good athletes, such as linebackers DeDe Lattimore and Sam Barrington, who fly to the ball and implode on impact. With few worries about the Miners' 104th ranked running game, the Bulls can sit back in pass coverage and wait to pick off one of Javia Hall's errant throws. South Florida QB B.J. Daniels, on the other hand, appears to be getting better with each passing week.
What To Watch Out For: Through three games, South Florida RB Darrell Scott is making good on his new lease on life. The former blue-chipper who busted in Colorado has taken control of the Bulls ground game, earning more snaps than veteran Demetris Murray. Scott is coming off a breakout performance a week ago, rushing for 146 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. If he can continue to run with authority, beating the Bulls becomes a whole lot harder.
What Will Happen: This is a very tough spot for UTEP, which doesn't have the depth or the playmakers to match a hot South Florida squad. The Bulls will continue to roll without much resistance, burying the Miners offense, and keeping the pedal to the metal with its own attack. By early in the second half, USF will have built enough of a bulge to rest its starters and begin thinking ahead to Thursday night's anticipated trip to Pittsburgh.
CFN Prediction: South Florida 45 … UTEP 13
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