The Opponent: These two programs share a strong sense of familiarity. Not only have they played each other the past two years but UTSA head coach Larry Coker spent six years of his career in Stillwater, serving as offensive coordinator for a talented program that placed Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas into the national spotlight. While it will be a homecoming for Coker, Boone Pickens Stadium is far from a hospitable stop for the Roadrunners. The Roadrunners got smoked last year in Stillwater to the tune of 43 - 13. To turn misfortune into tragedy, a shoulder injury to then-starting quarterback Tucker Carter started the vortex that would suck the Roadrunners' promising season down the drain.
Oklahoma State has enjoyed inconsistent success since their last meeting with the Roadrunners. While Daxx Garman tore up the UTSA secondary for 315 yards on just 16 attempts, his season ended on a sour note as he lost his starting job to JW Walsh. An injury to Walsh would open up playing time to then true-freshman Mason Rudolph. The former four-star recruit has improved each week since his first start which spells trouble for UTSA. Rudolph passed for over 400 yards last week against Central Arkansas despite missing on several throws. His strong arm provides a dangerous challenge to a young UTSA secondary that has struggled to provide tight coverage throughout the early season.
While OSU's passing offense is terrifying, the Cowboys have struggled to get the offense popping on the ground. The offensive line has played a major factor in those struggles as the Cowboys do have solid options in the backfield between Rennie Childs and Chris Carson. The Roadrunners are known for being tough against the run; shutting down OSU's ground efforts could cause the Cowboys to become predictable and one-dimensional, possibly leading to UTSA's first interception of the season.
The Cowboy's strongest defensive unit is most likely their defensive ends where they enjoy the best defensive end in the Big XII in Emmanuel Ogbah (please don't hurt me Shawn Oakman). UTSA offensive tackle Jordan Gray struggled when facing Big XII competition last week against Kansas State and he'll see even stiffer opposition against Ogbah and Bean this week. The Roadrunners will need to keep their offensive tempo clicking quickly in the hopes of taking the OSU defensive line out of the game.
UTSA Outlook: The Roadrunners struggled mightily against Kansas State last week. The Wildcats physically dominated the game, setting up a big fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. UTSA was plagued by penalties, racking up nearly three times as many penalty yards as rushing yards. Snyder's defensive line was able to provide quick, consistent pocket pressure with just four down linemen rushing, causing UTSA quarterback Blake Bogenschutz to have extremely small windows to throw into.
When keeping the level of competition in mind, Bogenschutz didn't do too bad last week. His stat line honestly surprised me when I checked it after the game. Despite an unstable pocket and covered receivers Bogenschutz was able to pass for 156 yards on a 60% completion percentage while avoiding any interceptions. If this is a "bad" game for Bogenschutz, you've got to like UTSA's chances with him moving forward.
Oklahoma State's defense has been fairly stout against Central Michigan and Central Arkansas but odds are UTSA still manages to improve on their pitiful offensive performance last weekend. Bogenschutz did step in to lead an impressive touchdown drive against OSU on the road last season in his first game experience so the young quarterback has had some success in Boone Pickens before. He'll look to get tight end David Morgan involved in the offense as often as possible.
Prediction: I think UTSA is going to face Oklahoma State at a really inopportune time. The Cowboys have stumbled out of the gate against their first two opponents. I think this team is a lot better, especially on offense, than their scores have shown. The odds of Mike Gundy coaching his team to a third slow start seem low to me. If UTSA would have faced OSU before they were somewhat humbled by CMU and UCA than I could see an argument for the Roadrunners picking up an early score to keep the game competitive. Gundy will have his guys ready to play. They already know that UTSA is no cupcake. Rudolph will challenge UTSA's secondary early. I think those gambles will pay off.