Date: Saturday, September 17, 2022
Time: 7:00 PM (CT), 8:00 PM (ET)
Location: Darrell K. Royal Stadium - Austin, Texas
TV: Longhorn Network
Radio: UTSA - Ticket 760 AM; Texas - Longhorn IMG Radio Network 104.9 The Horn
Betting Line: Texas - 12.5 O/U 61
UTSA (1-1), Conference USA. Last game: win over Army in OT, 41-38
Texas (1-1), Big 12 Conference. Last game: loss to Alabama, 20-19
First meeting of the series (0-0)
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&C’s apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details
Both Texas (1-1) and UTSA (1-1) are riding high after strong week two performances. The Longhorns nearly upset No. 1 Alabama while UTSA dispatched Army on the road, and both teams showcased a gutsy style of play that likely has both fanbases excited for the rest of the season. Moreover, the atmosphere should be electric as many in both fanbases likely have ties to both programs, either through family history or as students in UTSA’s CAAP program. The result should be an entertaining and relatively fun affair on Saturday.
UTSA Quarterback Frank Harris has not missed a beat since last season’s historic run. After setting UTSA’s single-season records for passing yards, touchdowns, and total offense in 2021, Harris has already amassed back-to-back 300+ yard games and has been named the C-USA offensive player of the week twice. He currently leads the nation in total offense with an average of 394.5 yards per game. And on multiple occasions he orchestrated key dives to keep UTSA in the games against Houston and Army. Basically, UTSA’s offensive success depends heavily on Harris’s playmaking ability, and the Roadrunners will need that ability if they are to remain competitive against the Longhorns.
That is easier said than done. UTSA is still dealing with injuries along the offensive line that have hampered the Roadrunners’ ability to play more dynamically. After losing all-conference guard Makai Hart against Houston, UTSA lost tackle Ernesto Almaraz during the Army game and may have to rely on redshirt sophomore Frankie Martinez going forward. There is hope that junior Demetris Allen will be available after missing the first two games, but regardless UTSA’s offensive line will be the biggest liability on Saturday.
Without a strong offensive line, the Roadrunners have not been able to establish a strong running game which has put more work on Harris and the wide receiver corps to compensate. Although the passing attack is as dynamic as ever—Zakhari Franklin and JT Clark rebounded strongly against Army—and running backs Brendan Brady and Trelon Smith have been able to score on goal line carries, the fact remains that UTSA’s offense lives in the air, not on the ground. If UTSA can get a decent running output from running the ball it will do wonders for opening up the offense by forcing Texas to take its focus away from covering the passing attack.
There are more questions offensively for Texas than UTSA. The Longhorns are down to their third quarterback after Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card were injured against Alabama. Ewers is projected to be out for a few weeks at least, while Card is listed as day-to-day. There is hope that Card can play Saturday but if he does not or is taken off the field again then quarterback Charles Wright will have to lead the Longhorn offense. Wright and Card are different types of players, so Texas’s offense will likely be undecided until the opening kickoff. The Longhorns will still look to establish a strong run game but star running back Bijan Robinson is also nursing an injury and will be a game-time decision.
Regardless of whether Robinson plays the Longhorns will do well to run the ball anyway. Although UTSA has been effective at stopping the run this season the Roadrunners have been dreadful at pass protection, which has likely been a result from committing so much to run defense. UTSA allowed Army, a notoriously unique run-first offense, to pass for over 300 yards last week and Texas’s receiving corps is significantly better than Army’s. No matter how well UTSA can contain Texas’s running backs, a consistent running game will open up wide receiver Xavier Worthy to have a monster game.
UTSA showed last year that it was more than capable of keeping pace, and even outplaying, a power five team on the road. And if ever there was a year for the Roadrunners to pull the upset in Austin this would be it—an elite quarterback with a veteran wide receiver corps and solid defensive run blocking against a team riddled with injuries and starting young talent. But Texas is a much deeper team than other power five schools and has had two games under its belt to shore up any early season miscues. Despite the injuries to quarterback, Texas should still have enough firepower and strength to weather UTSA’s offense. Moreover, Texas has the discipline to make UTSA pay dearly for any mistakes in the secondary. The game should not be a blow out, but Texas will likely do enough to never put the game in doubt.
Prediction: Texas 38, UTSA 27