In the transient world of college football, UTSA joined the American Athletic Conference this season after earning the Conference USA championship in each of the past two years. Houston will be competing in its first season in the Big 12 after competing in the AAC.
Houston-UTSA How To Watch
Houston at UTSA, 7 p.m. ET
Last year’s records: Houston (8-5), UTSA (11-3)
Houston-UTSA Betting Line
UTSA -1 (-110)
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UTSA: Jeff Traylor (30-10)
Houston: Dana Holgorsen (88-61 overall, 27-20 at Houston)
Sept. 3, 2022 — Houston won 37-35 in three overtimes in San Antonio.
Houston rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to snap UTSA’s 10-game home winning streak. Houston QB Clayton Tune broke a 35-35 tie with a two-point conversion run in the third overtime. Per NCAA rules, the third overtime begins with a two-point conversion attempt. UTSA then missed its two-point attempt to end the game. The since-departed Tune threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 51 yards and a score.
UTSA’s Frank Harris completed 28 of 43 passes for 337 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He rushed for 63 yards (7.9 avg.) and one score.
Why this game is so big
The game means a lot to both teams. Even though Houston isn’t considered a contender in the Big 12, having been selected to finish 12th in the preseason poll, the Cougars surely want to hold serve against a team from its past conference. UTSA is considered among the favorites in the AAC, having been picked second in the preseason AAC poll. The Roadrunners should benefit from a difficult non-league schedule. The other games are Texas State and Army at home and at Tennessee.
A win by UTSA would not only provide great momentum but cement its status as one of the teams to beat in the AAC. A win for Houston would give the Cougars some needed confidence in what is perceived as a season in transition.
For UTSA: With UTSA, it begins with Harris, now in his seventh college football season. He is a dual-threat quarterback and a good opening week could get him some early Heisman hype. The reigning Conference USA Player of the Year, Harris completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 4,063 yards and 32 TDs and ran for 602 yards and nine scores.
Harris, along with receivers Joshua Cephus and De’Corian Clark and defensive lineman Joe Evans, have been named to the Senior Bowl Watch List. Cephus had 87 receptions for 985 yards and six touchdowns. Despite missing five games due to injury, Clark had 51 receptions for 741 yards and eight touchdowns. Evans was an honorable mention all-CUSA choice last year with 18 tackles and 3.5 TFLs. In addition, senior safety Rashad Wisdom is a two-time first-team all-Conference USA selection.
For Houston: The Cougars’ new quarterback will be junior Donovan Smith, who spent the past three seasons at Texas Tech. The 6-5, 241-pound Smith completed 66.06% of his passes last year for 1,505 yards, 12 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He rushed for 116 yards and seven scores. Redshirt sophomore Stacy Sneed is the leading returning rusher, having gained 488 yards (6.9 avg.) and five touchdowns. Sophomore Matthew Golden is the leading returning receiver after catching 38 passes for 584 yards and seven touchdowns.
Last season, the defense allowed 32.2 ppg., which was 111th in FBS. One of the strengths is at cornerback, led by senior Alex Hogan. Last season, Hogan appeared in just six games, missing seven due to injury, but he still led the Cougars with 10 pass breakups. Another leader is junior nose guard Chidozie Nwankwo, a third-year starter, who had 36 tackles last season.
As the line suggests, this one could go either way, but UTSA has been building for this season. And with Harris in his seventh and final year, this is the game that should set the tone. It won’t be easy to go into Houston and win, but the experience of this UTSA team and Harris’ experience should be the difference.