UTSA has their work cut out for them over the next three weeks. The Roadrunners have exhibited serious road woes this season and will have to be the ultimate road warriors in order to even compete in the coming games.
The young program has never had to be on the road for more than two consecutive weeks, and to that regard those past road trips typically only consisted of one talented opponent. Originally, I wanted to argue why this road trip is going to be harder than any other the team has faced in the past, but honestly, none of them are even comparable. This time around, UTSA will be a significant underdog in each game.
Not only are the matchups against dominate programs, but, ironically enough, the Roadrunners haven’t exactly ran the road this season. UTSA is 1-2 away from home so far, only averaging 15 points per game on offense while failing to break the 20-point threshold.
The Roadrunners start the trip in Murfeesboro, Tennessee, to take on the 20-point favorite Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Brent Stockstill machine has proven to the best show in C-USA with the starting quarterback averaging 373 yards per game at home and leading the offense to an average of 42 points while playing at home. They also have the number one running back in I’tavius Mathers, an SEC talent who’s already broken the 1,000 yard mark for the season with four games left to play.
The 6-3 division power has been riding high since going into SEC land and knocking off Mizzou 51-45 after losing to division rival Western Kentucky in the 100 Miles of Hate rivalry game. MTSU will not be taking this game lightly, as losing to WKU severely hurt their chances at representing the eastern division in the conference championship.
To make matters more complicated for the Roadrunners, the number one pass rusher on their defensive line, Marcus Davenport, is suspended for the first half of the contest after a fourth quarter ejection for targeting in last week’s game against North Texas.
From there, UTSA heads to the Boot to take on the number one team in C-USA West, Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs put up 55 points at home against the Western Kentucky team that beat the Middle Tennessee team that UTSA is a 20-point underdog to. You follow?
LA Tech also just put up 61 points against a Rice team that UTSA escaped by the skin of their teeth. This Bulldog team is looking to knock off Southern Miss for the rights to C-USA West, and with that game scheduled as the season finale, LA Tech intends to run the table the rest of the way.
Quarterback Ryan Higgins has really pushed back from the adversity he faced at the beginning of the year. He’s passed the ball extremely well this season, completing 68% of his passes and logging a 26-to-three touchdown-to-interception ratio. His main weapon, Trent Taylor, is the number one receiver in C-USA so far, and running back Jarred Craft is the fifth-best back in conference with 805 yards on 127 attempts (6.3 avg).
The final stop is not too far away in College Station, Texas, as UTSA will journey into SEC land for the first time when they step onto Kyle Field to take on Texas A&M. It will be, without argument, the most hostile environment the Roadrunners have ever played in. The only similar crowd this team has seen was the last year in Stillwater, Oklahoma, when the Roadrunners got ran out of the stadium by Oklahoma State.
This is the highest ranked - currently #4 in the country - team that UTSA will face to date. The Aggies have one of the most stout defenses in the country and currently sit at number two in the SEC West after losing to Alabama.
Typically, Group of 5 vs Power 5 matchups don’t happen this late in the season, especially the second-to-last game. The main downside to this is that A&M will be in full stride when taking on UTSA. Typically, the Cinderella upsets happen at the beginning of the year, when the underdog team catches the powerhouse off guard as they’re trying to establish an identity.
This game will be one hell of a learning experience for the Roadrunners.
UTSA’s bowl hopes are contingent on delivering an upset blow to one of these teams, as most pundits have the team skidding to 0-3 through the meat of their schedule.
The trip begins this Saturday at 1:30 in Murfeesboro. Godspeed, Birds.