Staff Predictions: Owls take on UTEP for potential 12th straight home victory

FAU and UTEP last met in 2016, where the Owls took the 35-31 win.


Logan Agostino

Head coach Willie Taggart talks to his players before they head on to the field to take on FIU in the Shula Bowl on Oct. 2, 2021.

FAU returns to Boca Raton, Fla. as they host the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m.

Returning from the bye week with an astounding 38-9 win on the road at Charlotte, head coach Willie Taggart will want to see that momentum continue against a UTEP squad that has only lost once in its seven games.

The University Press Sports Staff takes their picks after going 2-2 in their predictions of FAU’s road game against the Charlotte 49ers.


Richard Pereira – Sports Editor (5-2)

Finally exorcising their road demons after beating Charlotte last week, the Owls have to maintain their performance from that game, particularly how they played in the second half.

Sophomore running back Johnny Ford had an excellent performance against the 49ers. He ran for 92 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts as he also caught a 32-yard pass from graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry to take it to the endzone. To replicate that, Ford has to continue irritating opposing defenses, especially against the Miners.

On the defensive end, senior inside linebacker Caliph Brice shined against Charlotte. He made a total of 10 tackles and assisted on a sack as he won the College Sports Madness C-USA Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. It’ll have to be a priority for Brice and the defense to keep getting stops and preventing UTEP’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison from making easy passes.

The Owls have to watch out for wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who has accumulated 35 receptions for 775 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this season. Keeping him in check and blocking passes to his direction has to be in the Owls’ playbook to assert control in the game.

While FAU shouldn’t take UTEP for granted despite the recent level of competition the Miners have faced throughout the season, the Owls can turn this into an important victory as conference play winds down.

Prediction: FAU 31, UTEP 21


Eston Parker III – Photo Editor (4-3)

FAU proved many of its doubters wrong in its impressive victory over Charlotte last week, including proving my prediction wrong. The Owls’ 38-9 victory over the 49ers was their first away win of the season, and shows FAU’s ability to win big games.

The Owls again have another big game, only this time is in Boca where they look to extend their home winning streak to 12 in a streak that dates back to 2019.

If UTEP’s quarterback Gavin Hardison is again unable to throw for touchdowns and FAU’s defense can force turnovers, this should be another quality win for FAU. The Owls’ defense is coming off a three-turnover game against Charlotte, and will look to do the same against UTEP.

The defense needs to limit running back Ronald Awatt and wide receiver Jacob Cowing, UTEP’s two main playmakers. Stunting their production should result in a massive slowdown of UTEP’s offense.

For FAU on offense, the efficiency of N’Kosi Perry and Johnny Ford should again be on full display on Saturday night. Perry continued his impressive season at FAU with three touchdown passes on 11 attempts last week. Beyond the passing game, the Owls will more likely look to steamroll through UTEP like they did against Charlotte, especially after attempting 40 rushes last week.

This game will be challenging, but Willie Taggart and his Owls are up to the task.

Prediction: FAU 34, UTEP 14


Bryce Totz – Staff Writer (5-2)

The Owls are riding high after getting their first road victory of the season last week against Charlotte. This was also the first win for head coach Willie Taggart outside of Florida since joining FAU.

If the team continues to rack up wins, they will have a chance at playing in the C-USA Championship game for the first time since 2019.

FAU should win on Saturday if they can execute the game plan. Taggart asks his defense each week to get at least three turnovers, and he asks the offense to run the ball at least 60 times. In their victory last week, the Owls had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. 

The defense needs to contain sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who is averaging over 100 yards per game. Senior inside linebackers Caliph Brice and Akileis Leroy will need to lead the defense again this week.

As for the offense, they need to give running back Johnny Ford the football. In last week’s victory over the 49ers, he dominated with 92 rushing yards, 32 receiving yards, and a touchdown. The Owls have developed a brand around rushing as last week, they ran the ball 40 times.

FAU should win on Saturday against UTEP, but that does not mean they can take the Miners lightly. The Miners are 6-1, with their only loss coming against Boise State University.

Prediction: FAU 35, UTEP 10


Trey Avant – Staff Writer (4-3)

UTEP has been on a roll in its last several games but FAU represents its toughest matchup since the loss against Boise State.

FAU has many weapons on offense that can provide headaches for UTEP, namely Perry, Ford, and freshman wide receiver LaJohntay Wester. Fortunately for UTSA, they have the ninth-ranked defense in the country. Their defense gives up only 297.4 yards per game.

On the other hand, UTEP has a solid duo in sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing and junior running back Ronald Awatt. The quarterback position has been a sore spot for their offense as quarterbacks Gavin Hardison and Calvin Brownholtz have combined for eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. 

UTEP’s offense will likely funnel through Awatt. Hardison will key in on Cowing as his primary target and FAU defensive backs Zyon GIlbert and Teja Young will attempt to slow down UTEP’s passing attack and make them one-dimensional.

Prediction: FAU 31, UTEP 14

For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet the staff:  Richard Pereira (@Rich26Pereira), Eston Parker III (@EstonParker), Bryce Totz (@brycetotz) Trey Avant (@TreyAvant3).