Frank Harris and the UTSA Roadrunners (10-2, 8-0 C-USA) can put a bow on their fantastic season Friday night when they host North Texas (7-5, 6-2 C-USA) in the Conference USA title game. The Roadrunners are 8.5-point favorites, according to the college football betting odds.
While the odds suggest a comfortable UTSA victory may be in the cards, the first meeting between the teams was a battle. UTSA won 31-27, using a touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining to grab the narrow win. If Friday’s game is anything like that one, fans will be highly entertained.
From a betting perspective, North Texas is 4-2 against the spread on the road this season, and their road resume includes a 27-point victory at Western Kentucky. UTSA is only 2-4 ATS at home, but the Roadrunners are expecting a massive crowd Saturday that could provide a significant emotional lift.
Expect plenty of scoring
UTSA leads C-USA in scoring, averaging 37.9 points per game. North Texas ranks third in the league, scoring 34.5 points per game.
While the first game “only” featured 58 combined points, North Texas’ Austin Aune threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged just over 10 yards an attempt, and three different receivers had receptions of at least 40 yards.
Aune performed decently last week, completing 16 of his 29 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-17 win over Rice. He’ll need to be on his A-game for the Mean Green to pull the upset.
UTSA recorded 495 total yards in the mid-season win over North Texas, and the Roadrunners dominated time of possession (38:23 to 21:37) and first downs recorded (32 to 13). North Texas used explosive plays to hang tight, while UTSA was steady throughout the contest. If UTSA can avoid allowing the big play Friday, they could pull away and put an exclamation point on their special season.
Regardless of which team wins, it won’t be a surprise to see offensive fireworks again this weekend, as the total for the game is set at 69 points.
New Year’s Six Bowl?
Should UTSA win Saturday, the Roadrunners will still likely fall short of earning the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six Bowl berth. The winner of the AAC championship matchup between Tulane and UCF will likely secure the spot in the Cotton Bowl.
For the Roadrunners, there are likely some feelings of “what could’ve been” as they fell 37-35 in three overtimes to Houston in the first week of the season. Houston ended the season 7-5 overall, putting together a nice finish in the AAC.
Had UTSA’s only loss been to Texas, there would’ve been a strong case that the Roadrunners were deserving of the New Year’s Six Bowl. Alas, the Roadrunners still put together an impressive season, and they can win 12 games if they beat North Texas and win their bowl game.
UTSA and North Texas will join the AAC starting next season, which should boost each program’s future chances of playing in meaningful postseason games.