First Look: Rice vs. UTEP

UTEP bounced back from an 0-3 start to their 2008 season. They can keep pace in C-USA with a win over the Owls this weekend. Rice has goals of its own that make coming home with a win very important...

After a disappointing start to the 2008 season the University of Texas-El Paso football team has righted the ship somewhat - but finds itself needing a win badly this weekend against the visiting Rice Owls.

The Miners went 0-3 to start 2008; then reeled off 3 straight wins to get themselves back to .500. The wins were timely for UTEP because all 3 were against C-USA opponents. Until they lost to Tulsa last weekend, UTEP was undefeated in conference play.

However they lost big to Tulsa last weekend, and now facing a task of winning 3 of their last 5 games to become bowl eligible see every game as a "must win" situation.

The Miners will be looking to gain a little redemption with a win Saturday, after losing to Rice last year in Houston. The Owls made a dramatic comeback to surge ahead late in the fourth quarter, winning 56-48.

The Owls lead the series 6-5. UTEP holds a 3-2 advantage in games played in El Paso. The last four matchups between the state rivals have all been decided by eight points or less. The average total number of points scored in the previous 11 games of the series has been 64.6.

Here's a look at the UTEP starting line-up...

Position ## Player

XR 2 Kris Adams, 6-3 190

LT 71 Mike Aguayo, 6-4 290

LG 78 Cameron Raschke, 6-4 315

OC 62 Robby Felix, 6-3 295

RG 64 Colby Meek, 6-4 305

RT 54 Will Osolinsky, 6-7 265

TE 87 Jamar Hunt, 6-7 260

AR 6 Jeff Moturi, 6-0 180

ZR 19 Evan Davis, 6-1 190

QB 10 Trevor Vittatoe, 6-2 215

TB 3 Donald Buckram

UTEP has been pretty balanced on offense this year, but throw the ball about 65% of the time. They have 912 yards rushing this season, but no player with more than 242 yards on the ground. The Miners have 1,713 receiving yards, but no individual has more than 439 yards. UTEP has been led in rushing by four players in seven games -- Donald Buckram, Terrell Jackson and James Thomas II twice, and Vernon Frazier once. If Daniel Palmer is UTEP's top rusher in a game this season, the Miners would have five different individuals leading the team in rushing for the first time since 1992.

Position ## Player

DE 91 James Okalekan, 6-2 270

NG 95 Steve Riddick, 5-11 275

DE 13 Robert Soleyjacks, 6-2 250

OLB 17 Brian Wilkins, 6-2 235

MLB 5 Adam Vincent, 6-3 240

OLB 32 Landon Goodwell, 6-2 260

MNR 23 Da'Mon Cromartie Smith, 6-2 205

LS 11 Anthony Morrow, 6-0 205

RS 2 Josh Ferguson, 5-9 185

LCB 1 Clarence Ward, 6-1 185

RCB 47 Cornelius Brown, 5-11 200

The Miners have tallied 15 sacks in 2008 after recording 16 sacks all of last season. The Miners have had five multi-sack games in 2008. UTEP is tied for third in C-USA in sacks for league games only with eight behind Tulsa (12) and SMU (10). UTEP is first in C-USA in turnover margin (1.50).

Position ## Player

P 98 Greg Hiett, 6-5 210

K 10 Jose Martinez, 5-10 200

KR 2 Josh Ferguson, 5-9 185

PR 2 Josh Ferguson, 5-9 185

Although he missed tying the NCAA record for longest field goal without a tee by one yard, Jose Martinez's 64-yarder against UCF on Sept. 27 was a C-USA and school record. The previous C-USA record was a 57-yard field goal by Martinez against Houston last season.

Martinez made a 70-yard field goal in practice earlier this season. For the year he is 11-for-15 on field goal tries, including 10-for-11 from less than 50 yards. Martinez has successfully converted his last six field goal attempts. Martinez was a perfect 5-of-5 on kickoffs resulting in touchbacks against Tulane on Oct. 11.

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