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La Tech seeks to continue series dominance over UTSA

After playing in Ruston the past two years, the Roadrunners and Bulldogs will face off in San Antonio for just the third time ever.

NCAA Football: Rice at Texas-San Antonio John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kickoff Time: 6 p.m. CT

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Stadium: Alamodome

Streaming: ESPN+

Series Record: La Tech leads 5-1

Last Meeting: La Tech won 20-6 in 2017

Betting Line: La Tech -11.0

Over/Under: 44.5

It’s been three years, but the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and UTSA Roadrunners are set to meet in the Alamodome for the first time since 2015. A scheduling quirk caused by UAB’s return to football saw them play in Ruston two straight years, but everything is back on schedule now.

This will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two teams, but only the third in San Antonio. Although the Bulldogs have mostly dominated the series, winning five of six, the lone UTSA win came in the Lone Star State.

Can UTSA repeat what they did in 2013, or will Tech win its fifth straight over the Roadrunners?

UTSA Outlook

Jared Kalmus: UTSA is right where everyone expected them to be. After facing three straight Power Five programs, the Roadrunners were granted three FBS bottom feeders to even their record at 3-3. Given how much talent the program lost to graduation last year, a .500 record seems like a fair accomplishment, but of course the win-loss record doesn’t tell the full story.

The Roadrunners’ offense has been downright putrid this season. Last week the offense was only able to muster 178 total yards of offense, with 22 pass attempts going for just 43 yards. UTSA played two quarterbacks and neither looked capable of leading an offense into the end zone.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas-San Antonio
Carter McCarthy
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It will be hard for the offense to perform worse than last week, but Louisiana Tech’s defense is much better than Rice’s, so we can’t rule anything out. Whether it’s a talent, execution, or coaching issue (or all three), it’s become apparent that after six games this season the Roadrunners are simply not going to be able to rack up points this year.

While we acknowledge the struggle of the offense, we must also commend UTSA’s defense for continuing to not just give a great effort, but to lead this team.

With players like Les Mauro, DeQuarius Henry, and Lorenzo Dantzler showing tremendous improvement, UTSA’s front six is playing at a level similar to last year despite the departure of first-round draft pick Marcus Davenport. It helps that middle linebacker Josiah Tauaefa is currently the highest-graded linebacker in the nation, per Pro Football Focus.

They’re certainly being spring-boarded by an improved pass rush, but UTSA’s secondary is trending up. Cornerback Cassius Grady has emerged as a great counterpart to Clayton Johnson, while CJ Levine might have played his best game of his career against Rice next week. The Bulldogs’ wide receivers will be a much greater challenge than what UTSA has seen over the past three weeks. That match up will likely determine whether UTSA can keep this game close enough to pull an upset or not.

Louisiana Tech Outlook

Tanner Spearman: The Dawgs were riding high two weeks ago after upsetting North Texas in Denton. That all came crashing down last week, however. Tech put up its worst offensive performance since 2008, scoring only seven points against UAB. Now, they must regroup and find a way to win in a tough environment.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Louisiana State
Jaqwis Dancy
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, the defense played well against UAB. Although the Blazers scored 28 points, the first 14 of those came off turnovers. The latter 14 came in the fourth quarter, when the defense was likely tired from being on the field all the time.

When the offense is struggling in that manner, there’s only so much you can ask from the defense. J’Mar Smith was largely ineffective, throwing 10/24 for 109 yards and a pick.

It didn’t help that he was sacked five times, either. A better performance will be needed from the offensive line.

The good news for the Bulldog offense is that Jaqwis Dancy may finally be able to return. Dancy provides a spark for the running game that Tech has been missing. If he does indeed return, it may help the offense perform better overall.

Tech defeated UNT in a game where the Bulldogs never turned the ball over. They did so three times against UAB. That must be cleaned up.

The good news for Tech is that UTSA’s offense has had struggles of its own. If the Bulldog defense can continue to play well, they have a chance to really make things rough on UTSA, just as they did a year ago.

Final Thoughts

Jared: UTSA’s offense has been much better at home than on the road this year, but I’d still be shocked to see more than three touchdowns from the Roadrunners. I have a sneaking suspicion that Frank Wilson will continue to play two quarterbacks, and that juggle could give La Tech enough leeway to pull out a win. UTSA covers the spread in a 23-13 loss.

Tanner: This game feels like it will be similar to the game last season. A low scoring game that stays relatively close into the fourth quarter wouldn’t surprise me given both teams’ offensive struggles. Tech will probably win, but UTSA could cause Tech to sweat before it’s all over.