Texas-San Antonio (4-0) at New Mexico State (1-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: AggieVision. Home Record: UTSA 2-0, NMSU 1-0. Away Record: UTSA 2-0, NMSU 0-2. Neutral Record: UTSA 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Conference Record: UTSA 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The road to acceptance in the Football Bowl Subdivision gets a bit harder for the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio this weekend, as they open Western Athletic Conference play against the New Mexico State Aggies in Las Cruces.
Up to this point the Roadrunners, one of the newest additions to the WAC, have gone unscathed through four games, the only team in the league that can claim a 4-0 start to the campaign at this stage. There were a couple of close calls early on against South Alabama and Texas A&M-Commerce, but the last two weeks have been virtually worry-free. Following a 38-14 defeat of Georgia State on the road back on Sept. 15, UTSA turned around and crushed Northwestern Oklahoma State by a final of 56-3 last Saturday, running the team's overall win streak to five in a row dating back to last season.
As for the Aggies, they began the 2012 campaign with a 49-19 rout of Sacramento State at home, but since then have fallen in three straight. The most recent setback for NMSU took place last Saturday when the squad was taken down by in-state rival New Mexico in a 27-14 final in Las Cruces. The I-10 battle has always been one of the biggest games on the schedule for both teams and this time around the Lobos used it to snap an unhealthy 24-game road losing streak.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools.
The Roadrunners attacked Northwestern Oklahoma State early and often in their meeting last week, scoring a school-record 42 points in the first half during the scoring barrage. David Glasco II and Evans Okotcha each scored a pair of first-half touchdowns as the team recorded a school-best six rushing scores in the meeting overall.
With a comfortable lead provided by an overwhelming running attack which produced 235 yards, the Roadrunners felt well enough to field three different quarterbacks who combined to complete 15-of-17 passes for 210 yards and a score.
Over on the defensive side of the ball, aside from a field goal for NWOS to close out the first half, the Division II Rangers were barely heard from as the visitors recorded just 167 yards of total offense and converted 1-of-13 third-down opportunities. Triston Wade got in on the scoring excitement for the hosts as he returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
While the competition to this point has been somewhat questionable for the Roadrunners, the team can only play the opponents that are on the schedule. With that being said, the team currently ranks first in the WAC and eighth in the nation in both run defense, allowing 63.0 ypg, and total defense (247.8 ypg). Thanks to seven interceptions, the squad has a turnover margin of 2.3 which is good enough for a tie for fifth place in the country entering play this week.
Although he only attempted seven passes, leading to 115 yards and a TD last week, starting quarterback Eric Soza has been the catalyst for the program in the early going of 2012. The signal-caller has seven passing scores and just a single interception on 83 attempts. More importantly, the offensive line has not allowed a single sack, just one of four programs in the nation able to make that claim.
Ironically, while UTSA has refrained from allowing its quarterbacks from being taken down in the backfield, the exact opposite is currently the case for the Aggies who rank 113th in the nation with 3.5 sacks permitted per game. Then again, Andrew Manley only went down for a sack once against New Mexico last weekend and still the Aggies were saddled with the loss.
Manley completed 22-of-34 passes for 256 yards and a score, while Robert Clay added the other TD on the ground for the Aggies in their annual bout with New Mexico. Unfortunately, the running game managed just 78 yards on 20 attempts versus the Lobos.
Austin Franklin, first in the nation in receiving yards with 130.5 ypg, caught six balls for 107 yards and a score versus UNM.
The Aggies had a huge problem slowing down the New Mexico rushing attack which recorded 302 yards and three touchdowns, averaging better than five and a half yards per attempt. Through four games, NMSU is giving up 215.3 ypg on the ground which is 105th in the nation. If not for the fact that it allowed the Lobos less than 100 yards through the air, the pass defense for the Aggies would be even worse off than it is at the moment, permitting 250.3 ypg, which leads to a hefty 465.5 ypg overall which is 100th in the country right now.
Obviously the Roadrunners have gotten off to a fast start, but who wouldn't with the sort of schedule UTSA has enjoyed. New Mexico State won't be the toughest test on the slate this season, but it will give the Roadrunners a better understanding of just how they stack up against the rest of the WAC.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-San Antonio 28, New Mexico State 24
09/26 10:32:53 ET