UTSA blows past outmatched UTEP to reach 9-0

Bret Bloomquist
El Paso Times

UTSA's undefeated football team looked very much like it belonged in the top 25 in its 44-23 victory against UTEP Saturday night.

The Miners did not.

How it happened for UTEP football

Outclassed from the second snap of the game, when Sincere McCormick added a 75-yard touchdown run to his Conference USA player-of-the-year resume, UTEP got a good look at the hill it still has to climb to become the big-time program it aspires to be.

In front of an initially loud crowd of 31,658 that was its second-largest of the Dana Dimel era and a national television audience, the 6-3 Miners weren't ready to take their shot at the top.

UTEP takes on UTSA at the Sun Bowl in a college football game on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 in El Paso, Texas.

UTSA was quite ready for prime time as it moved to 9-0 on a day it became one of four remaining unbeatens in the FBS. Starting with that run on the second play of the game, the Roadrunners scored on their first eight possessions against a UTEP defense that came in ranked eighth nationally in total defense. The lead was 30-9 by halftime and 37-9 soon enough after that.

The Miners, meanwhile, gave away a first-half stop when it lined up offside on a punt, missed an extra point and missed a field goal. Their first drive of the second half stalled on the Roadrunner 3. At one point in the second quarter when the game was 16-6 it could have been a 13-10 deficit, but this wasn't a game of what-ifs like the loss to Florida Atlantic last week.

UTSA was better.

More:Photos: UTEP pep rally before the game against UTSA

UTEP takes on UTSA at the Sun Bowl in a college football game on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 in El Paso, Texas.

Stars of the game

McCormick had 97 yards on his first three rushes against a defense that was giving up 97 rushing yards a game and finished with 169.

Frank Harris, one of the best quarterbacks in the league, completed 65 percent of his passes for 286 yards and added two rushing touchdowns. Zakhari Franklin was his top target, as he had 10 catches for 114 yards.

For UTEP, Jacob Cowing had 112 receiving yards for his 11th 100-yard game of his career, two short of the program record, but ominously left late in the third quarter with what appeared to be a forearm injury. Two of Tyrin Smith's three catches went for touchdowns as he finished with 91 yards.

Up next for UTEP

UTEP travels to 3-6 North Texas in what should be rated a toss-up. UTSA hosts Southern Miss in a game where it should be a four-touchdown favorite as it looks to go to 10-0.

Bret Bloomquist can be reached at 915-546-6359; bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.