Records: UTSA (4-7) vs La Tech (8-3)
Game Time: 2:30 pm CST Saturday, November 30th
Location: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA
Radio: Ticket760 or BullDogsAllAccess
Live Stats: SideArm Stats
Series Record: La Tech leads 6-1 and won last year’s meeting 31-3
Betting Line: La Tech -20.5, O/U 57
UTSA Roadrunners Outlook
The Roadrunners are stuck in gear, looking for a bit of solid ground to gain traction and put their engine to work. UTSA has flashed their youthful talent on both sides of the ball over the past few weeks but turnovers and an abundance of penalty yardage has prevented the Roadrunners from keeping the top tier of the conference honest through four quarters.
Louisiana native Lowell Narcisse is expected to start under center in spite of a nagging hand injury. The former LSU Tiger has taken great steps forward through the span of the season but looked a bit lost against FAU last week. As Narcisse was ineffective last week, UTSA Head Coach Frank Wilson turned to redshirt freshman Jojo Weeks for the first time in 2019. Weeks impressed with his arm strength, making two longs throws against coverage that had fans salivating. While Narcisse will start, Frank Wilson hasn’t shot down the potential of Weeks getting some snaps in this week as the Roadrunners are already eliminated from bowl game consideration.
Whether it’s Narcisse of Weeks under center, it’s clear that UTSA’s offense is going to be much better than what Louisiana Tech saw last year. UTSA has gained over 400 yards of total offense in their past three games, a level of consistency that UTSA hasn’t achieved since early 2017 (Southern, Texas State, Southern Miss).
While consistent yardage is great, the Roadrunners are going to have to play clean football to keep this game close. UTSA has been getting killed in “hidden yardage” plays as they consistently put both sides of the ball in inopportune positions before drives even begin. Polishing up the team’s play and putting forth a disciplined showing may give the Roadrunners enough breathing room to actually hold the Bulldogs against the ropes this week.
UTSA ranks No. 115 nationally with 67.3 penalty yards per game. An inordinate amount of the flags have come on special teams. The Roadrunners average a penalty every 15.5 special teams snaps compared with one penalty for every 25.2 snaps from scrimmage. A breakdown of the calls: pic.twitter.com/kM7WRuEFOJ— Greg Luca (@GregLuca) November 26, 2019
La Tech Bulldogs Outlook
The Bulldogs lost their stranglehold on the division after dropping back-to-back games with quarterback J’Mar Smith and leading receiver Adrian Hardy suspended. However, their dreams of a conference title aren’t dead just yet. They could use some help from North Texas, but they also need to handle their business against UTSA.
Smith and Hardy are expected to return for senior day, and that’s no small factor. With Smith starting, Tech averaged 41 points per game against teams not named Texas. The Bulldogs averaged 52 in the four games prior to the suspensions. The Bulldogs scored 10 and 14 in the two games without him.
Granted, those were road games against some of the better defenses in C-USA. Still, the Bulldogs have missed their quarterback and leading receiver and will be happy to get them back.
Tech also has a threat in running back Justin Henderson. Henderson has 862 yards and 15 touchdowns in what has been a breakout season. With returning starters Israel Tucker and Jaqwis Dancy battling injuries throughout the year, Henderson has been a much-needed bit of consistency.
The Bulldogs didn’t get where they are with just offense, however. Tech ranks fourth in C-USA in points allowed per game. Tech has also forced a turnover in 15-straight games, which is the longest streak in FBS. Amik Robertson leads the way with five interceptions and a fumble recovery.
With Smith and Hardy back and with a point to prove, expect Tech to play hard and come out firing.
Jared - UTSA never plays well in Ruston and I suspect that trend will hold steady this week. The Bulldogs obviously have a lot more to play for than UTSA does and J’Mar Smith and Adrian Hardy should be amped up and ready to earn their coaches and teammates’ trust back with big time performances to clinch the division. The Roadrunners put together a few nice drives but ultimately fail to cover the spread. UTSA 20 La Tech 44.
Tanner - After the past two weeks, Tech has everything to play for and a point to prove. Smith’s suspension rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way, so he’ll be playing to regain their trust. With UTSA ranking near the bottom of C-USA in points per game both offensively and defensively, expect Tech to come out and use the Roadrunners to prove the Bulldogs are the best in the west. La Tech 52 UTSA 14