UTEP Saved My Weekend
It was the weekend of almosts. Georgia almost upset LSU in a snoozer that was 6-0 going into the fourth quarter. Duke almost upset Virginia Tech. Oklahoma almost buried Miami’s hype for good in a game that, truthfully, was over on the second play of the third quarter. Arkansas State almost completed a stunning comeback against Iowa in a game that showed, once again, why Big 10 teams that are not named Ohio State need to stop being ranked in the top 15. Michigan almost completed an even more stunning comeback against Michigan State in a game that was exciting for about five minutes. Washington almost held off Notre Dame in one of the most boring high-octane offense games I’ve ever watched as the teams settled for eight field goals.
With stories like these, even with all of the comebacks, near comebacks and thrilling finishes, it was all just devoid of any excitement.
With story lines like these, it was almost a good weekend of football. Almost.
And then, miraculously, at the end…there was UTEP. Who’d have guessed it? The same UTEP that was 1-3. The same UTEP that got outscored 98-14 by Kansas and Texas. That same UTEP Miners team went out and played a shocking gem of against No. 12 Houston and, in their 58-41 scorefest, ended any chance the Cougars had of crashing the BCS party.
This is why they play the game.
We have come to expect big things from Houston’s offense, but the Miners certainly surprised tonight. The teams combined for 99 points on 1,245 yards of total offense. And, in a game with 106 passes, there was not a single interception.
Houston did it in the air, of course. Heisman hopeful Case Keenum threw a couple of games’ worth of passes, going 51-of-76 for 536 yards and five TDs.
UTEP did it on the ground, racking up 305 rushing yards. They were led by Donald Buckram (remember him?), who carried 32 times for 262 yards and four TDs. That’s 8.6 yards per carry. Trevor Vittatoe also had his best game of the year. The guy who came into the game with one TD and five INTs on the season, who posted a 10.44 QB rating against Texas (I swear, none of those are typos) somehow went 19-of-30 for 276 yards, two TDs and a 162.61 rating. The yards, TDs and rating are season highs.
It makes you wonder about Houston’s defense, and how Oklahoma State and Texas Tech couldn’t muster more offense than they did. In that regard (along with Oklahoma’s choke job against Miami), it was a very bad weekend for the Big 12.
But, the game was a great seesaw battle in the first half, and then UTEP ran away with it in the second with 41 points. A whole game’s worth of points in one half. And not even like a really bad North Carolina vs. Virginia game. A really good game’s worth of points in one half. Just what I needed to save my weekend from some otherwise abysmal football.