I understand why Tulane is considered the top Group of Five program entering 2023 by some experts, but I’m not quite sold. The Green Wave lost a few key pieces like standout running back Tyjae Spears and linebacker Dorian Williams, and they’ll enter the 2023 season with a target on their back in AAC games.
Keeping Willie Fritz in town as the program’s head coach is a massive offseason success for the program, and quarterback Michael Pratt returns for another season at quarterback. He’s an experienced signal-caller, and Tulane is expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the AAC.
Tulane should be good. I just think UTSA is going to be better.
Frank Harris Is A Star
A key factor in my reasoning for predicting UTSA to win the AAC is Frank Harris. The quarterback enters his seventh season in college football after throwing for 59 touchdowns and 15 interceptions over the last two seasons.
Harris is a stud, and he’s one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football. Pratt is a quality player for Tulane, but I think Harris is the more dynamic quarterback. He’s surrounded by good skill players, even with standout wide receiver Zakhari Franklin entering the transfer portal recently.
Defensively, UTSA returns plenty of talent, including linebacker Trey Moore. While Harris figures to draw much of the attention this season, UTSA’s defense has a chance to be one of the most disruptive units in the AAC.
With a decent defense and a star quarterback in Harris, UTSA has the pieces to make a run at the AAC title. It certainly helps that the Roadrunners are led by Jeff Traylor.
In three seasons as UTSA’s head coach, Traylor is 30-10. He’s 23-5 over the last two seasons, going 15-1 in C-USA games during that period. Yes, the AAC brings with it a step up in competition, but it’s nothing overwhelming for a team with UTSA’s talent and coaching.
UTSA’s league schedule features home games with UAB and East Carolina. A road game to end the season against Tulane figures to be the team’s toughest in-conference test. Tulane, however, has to face Memphis and East Carolina on the road this season. Those could be challenging tests.
I also love UTSA’s recent success on the recruiting trail. The Roadrunners look poised – as long as Traylor stays in town – to become one of the most consistent Group of Five teams over the next 3-5 years.
UTSA is recruiting well, convincing talented players from Texas to join the Roadrunners rather than other in-state programs. With the College Football Playoff soon to expand to 12 teams, the AAC will be one of the Group of Five conferences trying annually to get their champion into the event. UTSA feels primed to stay toward the top of the AAC for years to come, thus thrusting itself into playoff conversations.
I think UTSA generates significant buzz in 2023, winning the AAC behind a star veteran quarterback and one of the best coaches at the Group of Five level. Winning the AAC in 2023, if it happens, might only be a sign of more to come for one of the nation’s fastest-rising programs.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.