Here is everything you need to know about the season opening matchup in our UTEP vs. Texas Tech Preview.
7 p.m. CT, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
TV: Fox Sports Net (Mark Followill, Brian Baldinger, CT Steckel) (Also note: All Big 12 fans should sign up for ESPN+ to get Big 12 Now. Link below!)
Away Radio: ESPN 600 AM in El Paso (Jon Teicher, Bernie Ricono, Mando Medina)
Home Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network; Sirius 146/XM 207 (Brian Jensen, John Harris, Chris Level)
UTEP Head Coach: Dana Dimel (32-50 overall, 2-11 at UTEP)
Texas Tech Head Coach: Matt Wells (45-34 overall, 1-0 at Texas Tech)
Series History: Tech leads 16-6-1, Tech has won seven straight and won the most recent meeting 69-20 in 2015. The last time UTEP won was in 1957.
Series in Lubbock: Tech leads 8-3
Opening Line: Texas Tech -34 (As of Tuesday morning, it’s -34 ½)
Moneyline: Texas Tech -21500/UTEP +8000
Over/Under: 65 ½
Fun Facts: UTEP defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt was a member of Kliff Kingsbury’s staff from 2013-14 before resigning for “personal reasons” after being suspected of showing up to practice under the influence. His replacement, Tech graduate Mike Smith, eventually accused Wallerstedt of giving away Tech’s signals. This will be the first time Wallerstedt faces Tech since his departure and the allegations.
Texas Tech (1-0)
RB Armand Shyne and SaRodorick Thompson
The starting running back is Ta’Zhawn Henry. However, Shyne and Thompson placed up strong numbers against Montana State. This is the last “gimme” and they will want to continue placing pressure on Henry while duking it out for that second string position. Shyne is a transfer from Utah and recorded his third career 100-yard rushing game. He’s also a senior. Meanwhile, Thompson scored two rushing touchdowns and secured four receptions. How deep is Tech at running back? Montana State is probably even better than UTEP is. It could be another long day for Dana Dimel, who enters the contest 18 games under .500 as a head coach.
LB Brayden Stringer
Up front, I’m picking back-ups. Stringer is a solid linebacker who is playing behind Jordyn Brooks. He was out for the 2018 season with an injury and will likely see limited playing time. However, if Brooks goes down during conference play, he’ll be called to step up. I see Stringer receiving plenty of time during a blowout of UTEP and those reps will be crucial for Tech’s remaining 10 games.
RB Treyvon Hughes
If UTEP has any chance to remain in this game, it’s going to be on Hughes to keep them in. Against Houston Baptist, Hughes finished with 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. The best bet for UTEP is to pound the rock, keep the clock moving and prevent Tech’s offense from receiving possession.
SAFETY Justin Rogers
Rogers leads the team with 10 tackles. He also forced a fumble against Houston Baptist. It tells you a lot about this defense that a defensive back is the team’s leading tackler. That typically means the front seven is awful. It’s also worth mentioning that Rogers did not have a pass break-up. If UTEP has any chance to stay close to Tech, that statistic will change dramatically.
The honeymoon probably isn’t quite over yet, but this is the last tune-up before Tech travels to Arizona. They need to focus on remaining healthy and gaining confidence. Each of the previous three coaches (Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville, Kliff Kingsbury) started their tenure at Tech 2-0. All of them also finished non-conference play undefeated. To continue gaining trust with a broken Tech fan base, this is another “must win”. Go ahead and laugh at that, but if Tech does lose, the chaos will ignite between fans of the following: Leach, Hance, Tuberville, Kingsbury, and yes, some even talk about the good ol’ days of Spike Dykes still. This fan base is like the United States political climate right now.
Dana Dimel has one victory against a Power Five Conference team in his head coaching career. His Wyoming Cowboys defeated Iowa State Sept. 6, 1997 in a home game. He’s never pulled off the road upset. He enters this game with a 32-50 career record. How UTEP came to the idea of hiring this guy, I don’t know. My father is a University of Houston alum. I used to attend Cougars games during my tween years. When Cougars fans sell me on their fan base today and how they should be in the Big 12, I give them this response: “Do you know who Dana Dimel is?”. They never do, because no one ever really showed up to those games. Again, if Tech somehow loses this game, the fan base will experience a complete meltdown.
Prediction: Texas Tech 70 UTEP 6
UTEP is awful. They barely survived Houston Baptist. Montana State is better than UTEP. In fact, I think Montana State might even blow UTEP out. That’s especially true if the game were played in Montana. Tech should bench its starters by halftime and rest them up for Arizona.