El Paso, TX — UTEP (2-9, 1-6 C-USA West) will battle conference newcomer Middle Tennessee (7-4, 5-2 C-USA East) on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. MT (2:45 p.m. CT) in Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium to cap off the 2013 season. This will mark the first trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn., for the Miners. UTEP will make its fifth trip to the state of Tennessee. The Miners are 0-4 lifetime in the Volunteer State -- suffering losses to Memphis on Oct. 1, 2005, (27-20) and Oct. 10, 2009, (35-20) while losing a pair to Tennessee on Oct. 4, 1986, (26-16) and Sept. 15, 1990, (56-0). Since 2000, UTEP has only one win in its final regualar-season contest. The Miners defeated Marshall, 52-21, in the Sun Bowl on Nov. 28 to close out the 2009 season.
This will mark the first meeting between the two programs.
Seniors Will Play Last Game in the Orange and Blue
12 seniors will don the Orange and Blue for the final time on Saturday afternoon. The senior class includes: OL Mike Amdall (Plano, Texas), DL Adam Ayala (Huntsville, Texas), DL Marcus Bagley (Mesquite, Texas), WR Peter Carreon (El Paso, Texas), OL Brander Craighead (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), DL James Davidson (Huntsville, Texas), LB Michael Kelley (Los Angeles, Calif.), LB David Logston (Tempe, Arizona), LB Horace Miller (Baltimore, Md.), OL James Robinson (Richmond, Calif.), LB A.J. Ropati (Carson, Calif.) and TE Craig Wenrick (Flower Mound, Texas). Seniors TE Kevin Perry (Opelousas, La.) and DL Germard Reed (Lufkin, Texas) seasons were cut short due to injuires.
Tulane offensive coordinator Eric Price is the son of former UTEP head coach Mike Price. The younger Price was also a member of the Miner staff from 2004-07, serving as offensive coordinator.
UTEP WR Jordan Leslie and Tulane TE Matt Marfisi were teammates at Tomball (Texas) High School.
About Middle Tennessee
The Blue Raiders won their fourth straight game, beating winless Southern Miss, 42-21 on Nov. 23 at M.M. Roberts Statium (Hattiesburg, Miss.).
Middle Tennessee tallied 418 yards of total offense and a pair of interception returns for touchdonws in the victory. T.T. Barber and Kevin Byard each notched a pick-six, while Shane Tucker ran for a career-best 103 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremiah Bryson pitched in with 80 yards on the gound.
The win gave head coach Rick Stockstill his 50th career win. Logan Kilgore completed 11-of-25 for 172 yards and a touchdown for the Blue Raiders. Kilgore became the school’s all-time leader with 51 career touchdown passes.
Orleans Darkwa ran for a season-best 139 yards on 17 carries (8.1 avg.) and a touchdown, and Ryan Grant caught eight passes for 104 yards and two scores as Tulane defeated UTEP, 45-3, on Nov. 23 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Green Wave (7-4, 5-2 C-USA) ended a two-game losing streak, while the Miners (2-9, 1-6 C-USA) did not score a touchdown for the first time this season.
Tulane got on the board quick with its first possession of the game. Darkwa ripped the UTEP defense with 42 yards rushing and ended the seven-play 72-yard drive with a 20-yard scamper to the end zone. The Miners’ lone score came on a 32-yards field goal by Jay Maddox in the second quarter.
The Green Wave put up 482 yards of total offense, including 277 yards on the ground. The Miners managed 232 yards of offense. Tulane converted on 10-of-14 third downs and won the possession battle (30:53).
Junior tight end Eric Tomlinson caught four passes for 71 yards, including a career-best 28-yard reception. Junior wide receiver Devin Patterson tied a season-best with three catches for a career-high 47 yards.
Seeking Win No. 2 in Conference
The Miners picked up their first conference win after thumping FIU 33-10 in the Sun Bowl on Nov. 16. The Miners avoided a winless conference season, but are now looking for their second victory. The last time UTEP won one conference game came in 2003 when it finished 1-7 in the WAC.
Miners Pound it Out Versus Panthers
UTEP ran 53 rushing plays and only seven pass plays against FIU Nov. 16. The seven passes were the fewest for UTEP in a game since the 1983 season finale versus Weber State (three). UTEP’s percentage of rushing plays (88.3 percent, 53-of-60) was its highest in a game since since the aforementioned Weber State contest (95.8 percent, 69-of-72), and the third-highest figure in the modern era (since 1965). On Oct. 4, 1980 at Hawaii, sixty-two of the Miners’ 70 plays (88.6 percent) were of the rushing variety.
About that Rushing Total …
The Miners’ 327 rushing yards versus FIU were their most in a game since Oct. 22, 2011 versus Colorado State (340). The last time UTEP had more rushing yardage in a conference game was on Nov. 20, 1993 versus New Mexico (350). UTEP’s previous high for rushing yardage in a C-USA contest was 321 against Houston on Sept. 29, 2011. The Miners have eclipsed the 300-yard mark four times versus C-USA opponents since joining the league in 2005, including at SMU in 2007 (308) and versus Houston in 2009 (305).