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College Football
Preview
Utah State vs Texas El Paso
When: 2:20 PM ET, Saturday, December 20, 2014
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL STORYLINES

1. Utah State lost nine starters to season-ending injuries - three quarterbacks - en route to making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in its history at the New Mexico Bowl against UTEP in Albuquerque. The Aggies go for their third straight bowl victory after beating Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2012 and Northern Illinois in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl. Freshman quarterback Kent Myers threw five touchdown passes and ran for four scores in the last six games for Utah State.

2. UTEP won two games last season and went 5-2 in its last seven in 2014 to reach its first bowl game in four years since the 2010 New Mexico Bowl when it lost 52-24 to BYU. The Miners have dropped their last five bowl games since winning the 1967 Sun Bowl 14-7 over Ole Miss. UTEP averaged 30 points in the final seven games of the regular season after being held to three by Louisiana Tech on Oct. 4 and finished tied for second in Conference USA’s West Division.

3. The key matchup will likely be Utah State’s solid defense against a UTEP rushing attack that is led by Aaron Jones, who produced 14 total touchdowns this season. The Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Zach Vigil leads the way with 145 tackles (19.5 for loss) and nine sacks for the Aggies, who allowed 129.3 rushing yards per contest to stand 26th in the nation and 20.8 points (21st). Jones, a sophomore, has rushed for 1,233 yards and UTEP has totaled 2.552 – fifth most in the program history.

TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Utah State -10

ABOUT UTAH STATE (9-4, 6-2 Mountain West): Senior Chuckie Keeton was lost in the third game before fellow quarterbacks Darell Garretson and Craig Harrison went down with injuries while Myers completed 69.2 percent of his passes since with only two interceptions. Hunter Sharp boasts 63 receptions, 918 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Aggies, although he was limited to a total of 48 yards the last three contests. JoJo Natson has combined for 915 yards rushing and receiving while scoring on two punt returns for Utah State, which saw its five-game win streak end with a 50-19 loss to Boise State on Nov. 29.

ABOUT UTEP (7-5, 5-3 Conference USA): Jones has recorded six 100-yard rushing performances this season, including two in the last three games and nine in 20 career contests. Senior Jameill Showers has thrown for 1,732 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions – one during the final seven games of the regular season – and rushed for 288 and four scores, including a winning TD a 24-21 victory over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 29. The Miners have allowed only 11 sacks, tied for the fifth least in the country, and will get severely tested by a Utah State defense which has gotten to the quarterback 48 times.

PREDICTION: Utah State 27, UTEP 21
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Utah State 9-4 L1 27.4 20.8 6-0 3-4 1-1 1-0 6-2
Texas El Paso 7-5 W1 28.3 28.7 5-1 2-4 2-0 5-1 5-3
Last Meeting
Utah State Texas El Paso
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Utah State N/A
Texas El Paso N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Utah State N/A
Texas El Paso N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Utah State N/A
Texas El Paso N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Utah State N/A
Texas El Paso N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Utah State D. Garretson 67.4 1140 8 3
Texas El Paso J. Showers 55.7 1732 12 5
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Utah State L. Hunt 106 529 5.0 1
Texas El Paso A. Jones 217 1236 5.7 11
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Utah State H. Sharp 63 918 14.6 7
Texas El Paso I. Hamilton 23 500 21.7 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Utah State J. Natson 7
Texas El Paso A. Jones 14
Quickchart Matchup
Utah State Off vs  Texas El Paso Def
381.5 yards
372.8 yards
4.8 yards/rush
5.1 yards/rush
7.2 yards/attempt
7.8 yards/attempt
Texas El Paso Off vs  Utah State Def
359.5 yards
362.3 yards
4.9 yards/rush
3.3 yards/rush
6.6 yards/attempt
6.5 yards/attempt