Date: Saturday, November 20, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM (ET); 2:30 PM (CT)
Location: Alamodome; San Antonio, Texas
Radio: Ticket 760 (UTSA); WJQX-FM - JOX2 (UAB) Ticket 760 AM; iHeartRadio app (UTSA); 100.5 FM; TuneIn app (UAB)
UTSA (10-0), Conference USA. Last game: win over Southern Miss 27-17
UAB (7-3), Conference USA. Last game: win over Marshall 21-14
UAB leads series 4-1
If there is one G5 game this week that warrants your attention this weekend, make it this one. This is the matchup C-USA fans and pundits have been waiting for.
The UAB Blazers have reigned supreme in Conference USA and have been the dominant force in the western division since the program was resurrected in 2017. They represented the western division in the C-USA title game for the last three years and have won the C-USA title twice in that span.
Meanwhile, UTSA is nationally ranked, undefeated, and riding a 10-game winning streak with aspirations of an undefeated season and a C-USA title.
Most of those previewing the conference predicted UAB to either win the west again or at least compete for the western title. And many who previewed UTSA, me included, predicted that this game would determine who represents the west in the C-USA title game.
Nothing has changed from those predictions. The Roadrunners and the Blazers are ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the west with only one game separating the two in the standings. Both teams boast elite defenses in C-USA—UAB (1st), UTSA (2nd)—and both teams have cultivated a reputation for success. For UAB it is a winning C-USA culture and for UTSA it is a culture focused on taking care of business every day regardless of the opponent.
Saturday should be fun.
Last week UTSA let a reeling Southern Miss program dictate the pace and style of play of most the game. The Roadrunners failed to eclipse 30 points after a four-game string of 40+ point games and trailed of much of the game before taking the lead with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Frank Harris threw two interceptions in the game, after throwing only three in the previous nine games, while running back Sincere McCormick failed to reach 100 yards rushing since week five.
Overall, it was a poor offensive showing from a team that ranked near the top of C-USA in all statistical categories.
Do not expect a repeat performance. Southern Miss threw the entire kitchen sink at UTSA and head coach Jeff Traylor has demonstrated a commanding presence in the locker room, insisting week-in-and-week-out that the Roadrunners not “eat the cheese” until the season is done.
But if there is a game in which UTSA falters for the second week in a row, this is that game. The Blazers bring a championship pedigree to San Antonio and are fresh off a strong road win against Marshall, a perennial eastern power with their own title aspirations. The Blazers never trailed in that game, demonstrating that they can win convincingly on the road in 2021. In fact, the only road loss UAB has suffered all season was against No. 1 Georgia, the favorite to win the college football championship. Head coach Bill Clark has had his team dialed in for road games and the Blazers should be just as prepared on Saturday.
This game will probably come down to two things: the running game, and turnovers.
UTSA and UAB both have premier running backs. McCormick averages 119 points per game in conference while UAB running back DeWayne McBride averages 110 points per game in conference. They have scored a combined 15 touchdowns, they both average five plus yards per carry, and they both rely on a strong offensive line to open holes for them. Thus, whichever running back plays better will be a good indicator for which team is winning up front and will likely allow that team to dictate the pace and tempo for the game.
But turnovers can derail an offense and whichever team can minimize the turnovers will likely walk away with the victory. UTSA is +11 in turnovers on the season while UAB is plus two, but against Southern Miss UTSA was dead even in the turnover battle. That mainly had to do with the two interceptions Harris threw but if the Roadrunners cannot take care of the ball for a second straight week then the Blazers will be in prime position for an upset win.
This game will likely be a close affair, with the more disciplined team coming out on top. The Blazers have struggled in that department compared to the Roadrunners this season but trust Bill Clark to have his team dialed in for this game. Therefore, it will be incumbent on UTSA to shake off the poor offensive performance against Southern Miss and remain focused on Saturday. So far Jeff Traylor has prepared his team for these moments and should have the Roadrunners equally prepared in front of a loud home crowd.
UTSA 30, UAB 24