On Wednesday (10/25/23), midweek C-USA continues with an intriguing matchup between UTEP and Sam Houston State. In this article, find a full breakdown of this matchup, including our best bet which is Sam Houston State -3.5.
UTEP vs Sam Houston State Prediction
It’s a matchup only a gambler could love on Wednesday night between 2-6 UTEP and 0-7 Sam Houston State, and it’s safe to say neither team will end this season with a bowl game. However, this matchup provides both an opportunity to build some momentum heading into next season.
Sam Houston State has at least shown some fight recently. Two of its conference losses have come in overtime while Sam Houston had a last second loss against undefeated Liberty. The offense started the year as one of the worst in the FBS, but has been trending up as quarterback Keegan Shoemaker has elevated his play in conference games.
UTEP, meanwhile, looks like a corpse after an uncompetitive 28-7 home loss to New Mexico State last week. Outside of a Week 1 win over FCS Incarnate Word, the Miners have shown little fight on their way to a 2-6 record. That’s even more true with starting quarterback Gavin Hardison sidelined by an injury.
Sam Houston State’s KC Keeler is one of six active FBS coaches with 200 wins, and I expect him to get his team off the mat at some point this season. A tough transition was to be expected in the team’s first year in the FBS, but I still have belief in Keeler as a head coach given his impressive track record with multiple FCS championships.
UTEP is a team I’ve been looking to fade in these C-USA games, and I haven’t seen anything from them that would make me change that mindset. Head coach Dana Dimel’s seat is scorching hot right now. While it’s not one of my most confident bets of the week, I see Sam Houston State as the play here, but look for a -3 over the -3.5 if you can find it.
UTEP vs Sam Houston State Prediction: Sam Houston State -3.5
UTEP vs Sam Houston State Prediction Best Odds
Despite Sam Houston State’s 0-7 start, the Bearkats are priced as 3.5-point favorites in this game. The total is very low at 36 points as neither offense is expected to do significant damage in this one. The number 3 is the most key in betting college football spreads, so keep that in mind when placing a bet on either side in this game.
UTEP vs Sam Houston State Prediction Key Matchups
As these teams look for a much needed conference win, let’s break down two of the key matchups that will decide this week’s winner.
Keegan Shoemaker Vs. UTEP’s Pass Defense
After a difficult start to the year in non-conference play, quarterback Keegan Shoemaker is starting to produce for Sam Houston State. Shoemaker has 250+ passing yards and 2+ passing touchdowns in each of his four starts in conference play, and he’s coming off his highest graded game per PFF with an 85.3 passing grade.
The UTEP pass defense has been shaky all season, and it ranks 116th in PFF’s team coverage grades. The Miners rank 114th in passing down explosiveness allowed as they’ve struggled to get off the field on third downs, consistently allowing big plays over the top in the passing game. Shoemaker should take advantage.
Sam Houston’s on the board! Keegan Shoemaker to John Gentry! pic.twitter.com/gDc6fOIuBI
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 29, 2023
Cade McConnell Vs. Sam Houston State’s Pass Defense
With starting quarterback Gavin Hardison suffering an injury in his throwing arm, former fourth-string sophomore Cade McConnell has become the team’s starter. He came up with a few deep shots against FIU, averaging 15.4 YPA in that game, but his 42.9 PFF passing grade on the season is terrible. He has seven turnover-worthy plays through three games.
McConnell faces a Sam Houston State defense that has at least shown some stability, ranking 54th in passing success rate allowed and 29th in passing explosiveness allowed. Pass rusher Issiah Nixon leads the team with 16 pressures per PFF while defensive backs Caleb Weaver and Da’Veawn Armstead each have three pass breakups.
Cade McConnell’s first FBS TD pass is a 80-yard touchdown on a dime pic.twitter.com/tRapUOYX54
— Colin Deaver (@ColinDeaverTV) October 11, 2023