San Jose State (4-2) at Texas-San Antonio (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 2:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alamodome (65,000) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: SJSU 2-1, UTSA 2-0. Away Record: SJSU 2-1, UTSA 3-1. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: SJSU 0-1, UTSA 1-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A first-ever meeting in Western Athletic Conference play takes place this weekend in the Lone Star State, as the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio host the San Jose State Spartans at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
UTSA, which is in its first year in the WAC and just the second season of football overall, had a six-game win streak snapped last weekend when it bowed to Rice on the road in a 34-14 final. The Roadrunners, who closed out the 2011 campaign with a victory over Minot State, rattled off five straight triumphs to begin this season as well. The team began WAC play with a 35-14 romp over New Mexico State on Sept. 29.
As for the Spartans, were it not for a three-point loss to nationally-ranked Stanford in the season opener, the team would have been undefeated going into the WAC opener last weekend against Utah State. But as it turns out, SJSU still saw a four-game win streak come to an end versus the Aggies in a 49-27 setback at home.
Despite the loss, the Spartans are still shooting for a third straight road win for the first time since 2008.
Trying to keep the Spartans competitive during the meeting with Utah State last weekend, quarterback David Fales set a new school record with 38 completions, on 50 attempts, leading to a season-high 467 yards and three touchdowns. All of those numbers certainly give the indication that SJSU should have been in the mix right down to the wire, but what they fail to say is that Fales was also sacked an incredible 13 times in the decision.
Because Fales was charged with minus-102 yards rushing, the team as a whole was credited with a mere four net rushing yards in the meeting.
On a more positive note, Noel Grigsby set himself apart from other SJSU receivers as he caught 11 balls for 181 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 184 catches for 2,288 yards, the latter being the school record. This season alone, Grigsby has caught 39 passes for 580 yards and four touchdowns.
Outside of being knocked around more than expected by the Utah State defense, Fales is still one of the most accurate passers in the FBS, hitting 75.0 percent of his targets for an average of 311.2 ypg. The signal-caller has tossed a total of 12 TDs and has been intercepted just three times on 216 attempts
Heading the list of defensive standouts for the Spartans is Travis Johnson who is second on the unit with 39 total stops but is easily the top man with 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, an effort that has him listed as a quarterfinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, the only player outside of BCS conferences so named. As a team, SJSU ranks fifth in the nation with 3.67 sacks per game.
Like the Spartans, the defense for UTSA has been rather strong during the first half of the season. However, a closer look inside the numbers shows that the Roadrunners have certainly benefited from having a light schedule thus far, taking on mostly teams outside of the FBS. The true test will come now in the second half as UTSA takes on the rest of the WAC, a league where offense tends to be king.
Opposing defenses will also be much stronger as they get after the Roadrunners and, particularly quarterback Eric Soza who had to exit the Rice game after being shaken up. Against the Owls, Soza finished just 10-of-23 for 113 yards and a touchdown as the UTSA offense struggled to get into gear. Soza was also sacked once, the first time that has happened all season against the Roadrunners.
Unfortunately for Soza, he'll be under much more pressure this week and moving forward, which means the rest of his stats could also suffer and become far less impressive. But as it stands, Soza has tossed 11 touchdowns on 138 attempts and has been picked off only once. The other good news for the UTSA offense is that 10 different players have been responsible for recording touchdown catches so spreading the wealth means all UTSA players have to be on their toes.
But remember, most of these numbers have come against sub par competition and now the honeymoon is over for the Roadrunners. That also goes for a defense that has given up just 18.7 ppg which is one of the better marks in the WAC.
As long as Fales doesn't all of a sudden become gun shy in the pocket after being beaten up by Utah State, expect him and the Spartans to have their way with Texas-San Antonio this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 41, Texas-San Antonio 23
10/17 10:44:55 ET