Nothing would make for better “Texas is back” jokes than the Longhorns following up a great showing against Alabama with a home loss to UTSA. While I’m not saying that’s definitely going to happen Saturday, I am saying there’s a chance.
College football betting odds peg the Roadrunners as 11-point underdogs, which isn’t a monstrous spread. The line opened a couple of points higher at some sportsbooks, with the spread decreasing in recent days.
The close spread makes sense, as UTSA is one of the best teams at the Group of Five level, and quarterback Frank Harris is as dynamic as any player in Conference USA. Texas will be without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers in Saturday’s game, and the Longhorns are a prime candidate for an emotional letdown after a highly competitive and gut-wrenching loss to Alabama.
Let’s go ahead and put Texas on upset alert.
UTSA looks great
Losing to UTSA would likely anger Texas fans, but the Roadrunners are one of the most underrated teams in college football. Harris was the 2022 C-USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and he’s living up to that billing through two games.
Harris is averaging 348 passing yards per game, the sixth-highest mark in the nation. Three UTSA receivers average more than 80 receiving yards per game. Harris also added 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts through two games, averaging nearly six yards per rush. He’s averaged at least five yards per rush in each of the last two seasons, running for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns over those two years.
Harris’ 2022 showings came against quality teams, too. UTSA opened the season with a 37-35 overtime loss to Houston, which should be among the best Group of Five teams this fall. The Roadrunners followed up that tough loss with a 41-38 overtime victory over Army, which won nine games in 2021.
Defensively, the Roadrunners are holding opponents to 3.2 yards per rushing attempt and they’ve looked competitive against two capable offenses. Safety Rashad Wisdom was named the 2022 C-USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s an experienced leader in the secondary. There’s enough talent there to hold up for 60 minutes against good teams, and the group should feast on C-USA peers.
Emotional hangover, injuries could slow Texas
UTSA needs a few breaks to beat Texas, and the spot on the schedule seems favorable for the Roadrunners. Texas pushed Alabama to the brink last week, only to lose on a last-minute field goal. It would be natural for Texas players to be less excited this week, as UTSA isn’t one of the most well-respected and dominant programs in recent college football history.
It’s an obvious letdown spot for Texas, while Texas is clearly the biggest brand on UTSA’s 2022 schedule. The Roadrunners played well in Weeks 1 and 2, and they’ll be eager to put together another strong showing against a ranked in-state opponent.
We can’t forget about Ewers’ injury either, and Ewers isn’t the only banged-up Texas standout. Backup quarterback Hudson Card is dealing with a leg injury, so his status is uncertain for Saturday. Running back Bijan Robinson injured his shoulder against Alabama and received an MRI after the game. Even if Card and Robinson play, they might not be 100% healthy.
On paper, Texas appears vulnerable, and UTSA is an opponent that can’t be overlooked. The Roadrunners won 12 games a season ago, including road victories over Illinois and Memphis.
Taking the double-digit underdog to cover makes for an enticing play, and an outright victory shouldn’t be ruled out.