The first showdown between Texas (2-1) and UTSA (1-2) ended with a convincing Texas victory.
The final score encapsulates only part of the game. The Roadrunners and Longhorns engaged in an extremely competitive first half. In the end, this matchup was exactly what both teams needed to prepare for conference play. Both teams can walk away with plenty of optimism for the rest of their respective seasons.
As cliche as it sounds, the game was a tale of two halves. The Roadrunners took an early 3-0 lead that ballooned to a 17-7 score in the second quarter and a 17-17 tie by halftime. But the Roadrunners would score only three points the second half while Texas rattled of 21-unanswered points to run away with the victory. Both teams totaled over 400 yards of offense, with UTSA gaining over 250 yards in the air while Texas gained nearly 300 yards on the ground.
The difference came down to the little details and mistakes UTSA made that allowed Texas to capitalize.
UTSA committed 10 penalties to Texas’s 9, but the penalties were committed at some of the worst possible moments. On UTSA’s first drive, an illegal formation called back a touchdown—the third time this season UTSA has had a touchdown called back for a penalty—and a false start on fourth-and-one forced the Roadrunners to kick a field goal instead of trying to convert for seven points.
On the ensuing offensive drive for Texas, the Roadrunners defense committed three offsides penalties—including one on fourth down—that allowed Texas to extend its drive and score a touchdown. Those penalties likely cost UTSA an 11-point swing early in the game.
In the second half, wide receiver Zakhari Franklin dropped what looked like an easy conversion that would have extended UTSA’s drive into Texas territory. Against a stronger, more physical team like Texas these mistakes added up to contribute to the lopsided score.
Even so, UTSA still demonstrated that its offense can compete at a high level regardless of the opponent. Quarterback Frank Harris nearly had another 300-yard performance, passing for 222 yards and running for an additional 38 yards to extend UTSA’s drives in the first half. Harris moved to Roadrunners down field early and set up a two-yard rushing touchdown for running back Brendan Brady. Then on the ensuing kickoff UTSA recovered a surprise onside kick and on a trick play Brady threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Zakhari Franklin in double coverage to give UTSA the 17-7 lead.
If y'all aren't watching this game, then you're doing the wrong thing ♂️— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) September 18, 2022
Touchdown ➡️ Onside Kick Recovery ➡️ @BrendenBrady25 throws @ZakhariFranklin a touchdown... @UTSAFTBL | #CUSAFB pic.twitter.com/vQCWQJqaCg
The Roadrunners gave Texas a scare early, but ultimately Texas’s talent and skill overcame any trickery UTSA attempted.
After a relatively quiet game against Alabama, running back Bijan Robinson bounced back and demonstrated why he is a Heisman candidate. The junior demolished UTSA on the ground, rushing for 183 yards and three touchdowns, and consistently needed at least two tacklers to bring him down. Robinson took over Texas’s offense in the second half, breaking off two massive touchdown runs for 78 yards and 41 yards, respectively. Robinson could not be stopped, and it allowed Texas to dictate the pace of the game in the second half.
Despite injury concerns, quarterback Hudson Card started for Texas and was able to stay healthy and on the field for the entire game. He struggled with throwing deep and only amassed 161 yards but he continuously avoided pressure and scrambled well to extend drives. And as Texas began to get into rhythm, Card managed the offense well, finding running backs for open screen plays that diced UTSA’s defense.
Texas also stepped up defensively. They gave up only 3 points in the second half and were able to pick off Frank Harris for a defensive touchdown in the 3rd quarter when UTSA was only down 4. The interception return touchdown would start Texas’s 21-point swing to finish the game and the defense stalled UTSA on its offensive drives. The Longhorns would continue to give up yardage but denied UTSA any realistic opportunity to score again.
As for the Roadrunners, they can take pride in how they handled themselves. Cleaning up the mistakes and penalties will be key going forward, but UTSA survived this game without significant injuries to their star players as they begin conference play in a few weeks.
UTSA returns home to face Texas Southern on 9/24 @ 2:30 PM CT
Texas travels to Lubbock to face Texas Tech on 9/24 @ 2:30 PM CT