After a 59-3 win over ETSU, Tennessee will host its second non-conference game in as many weeks, this time against Texas-El Paso.
UTEP is widely regarded as the worst FBS program in the country. The Miners are in the midst of a 14-game losing streak, dating back to their 2017 season opener.
After playing FCS East Tennessee State last week, UTEP might not be too much of a step up for the Vols. The Miners lost all 12 of their games in 2017 and have started 2018 with a 20-point loss to FCS Northern Arizona and a 28-point loss to UNLV.
Dana Dimel is in his first year as the UTEP head coach and it will certainly take some time to get UTEP back to being a respectable program.
Tennessee has won both of its previous meetings with UTEP, 26-16 in 1986 and 56-0 in 1990.
UTEP suffered its 14th consecutive loss last week when UNLV took down the Miners 52-24. UNLV was up 45-10 in the second half when it put in many back-ups for the remainder of the game.
UTEP allowed the Rebels to rush for more than 400 yards on 56 attempts en route to their 52 points.
QB Kai Locksley — So far in 2018, UTEP has rotated Locksley and Ryan Metz at quarterback. While Locksley’s passing numbers are pedestrian at best, he leads the team in rushing with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 38 attempts.
Additionally, Locksley has a connection to Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Locksley’s father, Mike, is the offensive coordinator at Alabama and coached with Pruitt the past two years.
LB A.J. Hotchkins — Hotchkins, a graduate transfer from Oregon, leads the Miners in tackles through two games with 21, including one sack. UTEP’s defense is nothing to celebrate, but Hotchkins is a bright spot in the middle.
This game should not be much different for Tennessee than its previous contest against ETSU. UTEP is really bad.
Tennessee is currently a 30.5-point favorite, and honestly, that seems a bit low. The Volunteers proved last week they have the ability to put away a team they’re supposed to put away.
Hopefully Tennessee puts this one out of reach early and gets some more work for guys down the depth chart in preparation for Florida.