Mon, 06 Dec 2021

No. 24 UTSA will test first Top 25 ranking at La. Tech

Field Level Media
20 Oct 2021, 17:19 GMT+10

In winning its first seven games, including road victories over Illinois and Memphis, Texas-San Antonio demonstrated the resilience and toughness of a Top 25 team.

Now that the Roadrunners are ranked for the first time in program history, at No. 24, can they live up to the billing? That's the question they must answer Saturday night when they visit Ruston, La., for a Conference USA matchup with Louisiana Tech.

UTSA (7-0, 3-0 CUSA) certainly looked the part of a ranked squad last week, blanking Rice 45-0 in what second-year coach Jeff Traylor called its most complete game.

"It was by far the best game we have played in all three phases," he said. "This was a big game with a lot of pressure on those kids. Those kids understand the pressure. They came out and played as good as I have seen them play."

This is the 11th year of the Roadrunners' program, which was started in 2011 under former Miami coach Larry Coker. He went 26-32 in five years and was replaced by Frank Wilson, who posted a 19-29 mark from 2016 to 2019 and took the school to its first bowl game.

Traylor came aboard in December 2019 after serving as running backs coach at Arkansas and posted a 7-5 mark last year, guiding the program to its second bowl appearance. A third bowl game is all but assured now.

"It is crazy," Traylor said of the 7-0 start. "I am proud for my kids. They deserve it. Usually when you have good kids who are good players, good things happen."

The offense is led by quarterback Frank Harris, who has completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards, with a 14-3 touchdown-interception ratio. Sincere McCormick has rushed for 778 yards and six touchdowns, while Joshua Cephus, Zakhari Franklin and De'Corian Clark have combined for 113 receptions.

UTSA's defense has forced 14 turnovers and allowed opponents to rush for just 81.9 yards per game. The leaders have been Rashad Wisdom (45 tackles), Clarence Hicks (7 1/2 tackles for loss, 3 1/2 sacks) and Trevor Harmanson (29 tackles).

Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech (2-4, 1-1) is coming off a 19-3 conference loss last week at surprising UTEP.

The Bulldogs' record can be partially explained by how tough their schedule has turned out. The Roadrunners are the second ranked team Louisiana Tech has played.

The Bulldogs could have forced overtime at N.C. State before a final-snap interception allowed the Wolfpack to close out a 34-27 win in Raleigh on Oct. 2.

"It doesn't get any easier," Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. "It's going to be a great challenge for us. I'm glad we have the opportunity to come back home."

This will be the Bulldogs' first home game since a 24-17 conference victory over North Texas on Sept. 25. They are led by quarterback Austin Kendall, who has thrown for 1,342 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games, with eight interceptions.

Louisiana Tech owns a 7-2 lead in the all-time series, but UTSA pulled out a 27-26 victory in last year's matchup in San Antonio.

--Field Level Media

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