The Cougars (3-1, 0-1 Conference USA) had earned their first ranking since 1991 and were hoping to become a BCS spoiler after two wins over Big 12 foes. Instead they watched UTEP fans storm the field seconds after the Miners (2-3, 1-0) beat a ranked team for the first time in 12 years.
Houston lost despite a career night from Case Keenum, who threw for 536 yards and five touchdowns. The Cougars were the first ranked team to fall to UTEP since BYU in 1997.
Senior Roddray Walker sealed the win with a 70-yard touchdown return after recovering a fumble on a wild snap with 3:28 left in the game.
"We practiced that all week," Walker said of this fumble return. "Any time the ball hits the ground, scoop and score."
Buckram had 158 yards and all four of his scores as UTEP pulled away in the second half.
The Cougars started quickly, taking an early 10-0 lead. After the Miners kicked a field goal, they stopped Houston's potent offense on fourth down at the UTEP 8.
The Miners tied the game in the second quarter after forcing a fumble near midfield. UTEP scored on a 4-yard pass from Trevor Vittatoe to senior Tufick Shadrawy.
The Miners outscored Houston 20-3 in the third quarter to take the lead for good. Buckram rushed for his first two touchdowns and Vittatoe hit Jeff Moturi with a 74-yard scoring pass.
Moturi had six catches for 127 yards. Vittatoe was 19-of-30 for 276 yards.
James Cleveland had 14 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns for Houston.
The banged up Miners defense _ three of the five defensive backs were making their first starts Saturday _ put pressure on Keenum, forcing a series of off-the-mark passes.