UTEP vs. FIU and Sam Houston vs. New Mexico State Week 7 college football predictions

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Week 7 Wednesday games feature UTEP vs. FIU and Sam Houston vs. New Mexico State

A couple of Conference USA clashes are on tap for Wednesday, we’ll see UTEP vs. FIU and Sam Houston State vs. New Mexico State on ESPN2 and CBS Sports Network, respectively. These teams have become midweek fixtures, as Conference USA has adopted the schedule that has created an additional financial windfall and more visibility for conferences like the MAC and Sun Belt.

 

These certainly aren’t the highest-quality games, but football is football and we’ve got some to discuss for Wednesday.

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UTEP Miners at FIU Panthers (-1, 44)

I’m surprised that UTEP is still coming into this game with Dana Dimel as the head coach. A 24-10 home loss to Louisiana Tech with a quasi bye week felt like a good time to make a change, but the athletic department seems to think otherwise. The actual bye for UTEP isn’t until November 11, but this feels like a sinking ship with a 1-5 team that has not beaten a FBS opponent thus far. The program’s only win came against Incarnate Word, who lost the majority of its roster and its head coach when GJ Kinne took over at Texas State.

The Miners are hoping to have Gavin Hardison back at QB after using a carousel of quarterbacks last time out, but Hardison has only completed 56.6% of his passes with a 5/7 TD/INT ratio thus far. He’s also taken 14 sacks. UTEP has actually been more effective running the football with 4.1 yards per carry on 234 attempts than throwing it, but it’s tough to run the ball when trailing more often than not.

FIU actually rattled off three wins in a row over Maine, North Texas, and UConn before a couple of uncompetitive losses against Liberty and New Mexico State to fall to 0-3 in conference play. Keyone Jenkins has a 5/6 TD/INT Ratio and has absorbed 16 of the 21 sacks that FIU has allowed, but they’ve created some chunk plays on the ground and through the air.

Neither one of these defenses has played well. FIU has allowed just shy of six yards per play and UTEP has allowed 6.23 YPP. UTEP has actually allowed 6.4 yards per play to FBS foes and FIU has allowed 6.3. So, these are two really bad teams overall.

Offensively, FIU holds the edge and I think this line is a little bit cheap for that reason.  My line here is FIU -4 and I think they’re worthy of a bet here against a UTEP team going nowhere fast.

Pick: FIU -1

Sam Houston State Bearkats at New Mexico State Aggies (-4, 42.5)

Life as an FBS program has not worked out for Sam Houston State to this point, as the Bearkats are winless in five tries, but they’ve come closer the last two weeks in single-digit losses against Jacksonville State and Liberty. The Bearkat defense has played really admirably with limited help from the offense, as QB Keegan Shoemaker has only thrown for 731 yards on 126 attempts with a 4/5 TD/INT ratio. His top target, Noah Smith, has caught 30 balls and only has 8.4 yards per reception with a long of 25.

To make matters worse, SHSU is rushing for just 2.1 yards per carry. With 9.6 yards per reception and 2.1 yards per carry, the Bearkats rank 132nd in the nation on third down and only have eight red-zone trips. New Mexico State has 21 trips inside the opponents’ 20 and actually ranks fourth in yards per play on offense with 7.89.

The two teams have played very different schedules, as SHSU has the 35th-ranked schedule and NMSU has the 175th-ranked schedule. My line here is New Mexico State -6.5 and I’m not getting any key numbers or anything like that, so it’s not a game I’m interested in, but the travel is a little tricky with a bus ride and a game in elevation here, so I would think about a New Mexico State second-half bet, much like I recommended last week against FIU.

Look for a New Mexico State 2H bet