SMU Upsets UTEP, 40-27
SMU scored 24 third-quarter points in erasing a halftime deficit on the way to a 40-27 upset of the Miners on Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
The Miners (8-3, 5-3 C-USA) were denied the Conference USA Western Division title. UTEP finished second in the division behind Tulsa (7-4, 6-2). The Golden Hurricane will face UCF (8-3, 7-1) in next week’s league championship game in Orlando.
UTEP had a season-high seven turnovers with two leading to 10 third-quarter points for the Mustangs, who registered their first five-win season in eight years.
SMU scored 30 points for the first time this season, and surpassed its season average (18.9 ppg) in the third quarter alone. The Mustangs totaled 20 points off turnovers on the day.
UTEP dominated the first half, gaining 239 yards to SMU’s 147, but led just 7-6 at the break giving the Mustangs life.
SMU quarterback Jerad Romo capitalized by throwing a pair of long touchdown passes in the third quarter one for 34 yards to Reynaldo Pellerin, and another for 29 yards to Bobby Chase.
UTEP trailed 33-13 early in the fourth quarter, and Jordan Palmer’s pair of touchdown passes to Chris Marrow were too little, too late.
Palmer had a rough day, throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles. He finished 27 of 44 passing for 360 yards and three scores.
A bright spot for UTEP was sophomore running back Marcus Thomas, who had his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game. Thomas collected 118 yards on 22 carries, and also caught seven passes for 120 yards.
Senior Chris Francies also had a big game, catching nine passes for 126 yards.
Romo passed for 211 yards and three touchdowns for the Mustangs, who played an error-free game. DeMyron Martin rushed for 117 yards on 30 carries.
Once again, UTEP had more yards than its opponent in a loss. The Miners tallied 455 yards to the Mustangs’ 440. In three losses this year, UTEP has averaged 481.7 yards of offense to opponents’ 395.7, but the Miners have committed 17 turnovers.
The Miners will play in a to-be-determined bowl game, still searching for their third nine-win season. UTEP won nine games in 1956 and 10 in 1988. UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull said after the game that preliminary bowl possibilities include the Fort Worth Bowl and Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.