Friday NCAA Football: UTSA/Middle Tennessee St. Preview

by Big Al Staff

The first college football game played on a Friday night this season features two teams that appear to be moving in opposite directions in a Conference USA clash that was not on the original schedule for these teams a week ago at this time.

The University of Texas-San Antonio is off to a dream start in the first year of head coach Jeff Traylor. The Roadrunners outlasted Texas State on the road in their opening game of the season to pull out a 51-48 victory in overtime on September 12th. UTSA returned home last Saturday to host an FCS opponent in Stephen F. Austin, who they defeated by a 24-10 score as a 17-point favorite.

UTSA is averaging 498 yards per game led by a ground game that has to have Traylor pleased. The former SMU running backs coach has overseen an offense that is averaging over 5.0 yards-per-carry, which has led to 279 rushing yards per game in their first two contests. Dual-threat quarterback Frank Harris has thrived in operating the Roadrunners offense, and he has been complemented by running back Sincere McCormick.

Middle Tennessee opened the season with an embarrassing 42-0 loss at Army on September 5th, and they were not able to make many adjustments two weeks later with Troy then throttling them by a 47-14 score despite being just a 1.5-point underdog.

The Blue Raiders are getting overwhelmed on both sides of the football, but it is probably their woes on offense that are the larger concern. Head coach Rick Stockstill knew finding a running back to present a credible alternative to dual-threat quarterback Asher O’Hara was critical for the offense to take the next step after averaging 26.3 points per game last year. Stockstill hit the transfer market in the offseason to bring in Amir Rasul from Florida State and Martell Pettaway from Western Virginia to compete for the role. But COVID-19 concerns compelled both former highly regarded recruits to opt-out this season, leaving offensive coordinator Tony Franklin with a similar stable of backs that needed the upgrade from last year. Middle Tennessee is averaging only 81 rushing yards per game this season. Junior QB Chase Cunningham is considered the better pure passer to O’Hara, who was last year’s starter. Don’t be surprised if Cunningham gets the start or gets more playing time in this game with Stockstill desperate to jumpstart the offense.

UTSA was, originally, scheduled to host Memphis on Saturday, but the Tigers’ COVID outbreak caused them to cancel their game with Houston just last Saturday. These two football programs agreed to this play game six days ago. Middle Tennessee had previously scheduled a trip to conference rival Old Dominion, but that game was canceled last month when the Monarchs opted out of football the season.

BetAnySports lists UTSA as a 7-point favorite with a total set at 60. The CBS Sports Network picked up the broadcast this week to replace the Roadrunners clash with the Tigers. Kickoff is set for 8 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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