Utah State (6-2) at Texas-San Antonio (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 2:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alamodome (65,000) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: USU 4-0, UTSA 2-1. Away Record: USU 2-2, UTSA 3-1. Neutral Record: USU 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: USU 2-0, UTSA 1-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Bowl eligible after just eight games, the Utah State Aggies try to continue their strong play against another member of the Western Athletic Conference this weekend, as the squad clashes for the first time ever with the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio.
Off to their best start since 1978 when they began 7-2, the Aggies have qualified to take part in the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 1960-61 thanks to a 41-7 thumping of New Mexico State last weekend. With the victory USU not only moved to 29-7 in that series, the school also won its second straight and the fourth in the last five games overall.
As for the Roadrunners, they too started off the 2012 campaign with a rush, posting five straight victories, albeit mostly against questionable competition. Since taking down those same New Mexico State Aggies at the end of September, UTSA has bowed in two straight, including a 52-24 setback versus San Jose State during Homecoming festivities last weekend.
Nevertheless, in their first season in the WAC, the Roadrunners are off to a 1-1 start which, upon entering this week, was good enough for a tie for fourth place in the standings with SJSU.
In the last two weeks, the Roadrunners have allowed a combined 86 points, eight more than the squad gave up during its five-game win streak. Against San Jose State the Roadrunners had virtually no answer for David Fales who bounced back from being sacked 13 times a week earlier by Utah State, by throwing for 279 yards and three touchdowns in the rout. Perhaps the only bright spot for the UTSA defense was when Steven Kurfehs scooped up a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown for the only points in the fourth quarter.
The offense for the Roadrunners was sketchy at best because even as the group generated a healthy 412 yards, it turned the ball over five times on fumbles and once more on an interception. Quarterback Ryan Polite, who was filling in for an injured Eric Soza, hit on 20-of-32 passes for a school-record 302 yards and a couple of scores in the losing cause.
Whomever it is standing under center for Texas-San Antonio, it is a good bet that they are going to have Evans Okotcha as part of their plans. A starter in just two of seven games, Okotcha is tied for the team lead with 13 receptions leading to 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In addition, Okotcha is second in rushing with 238 net yards and has reached the end zone on six carries which is first on the unit.
If the Roadrunners thought they had a shot in this game against Utah State, they need to take a closer look at what the Aggies have been able to accomplish on both sides of the ball thus far. Not only has the USU defense limited all but one opponent to 20 points or less this season, the team has also dialed up the offense in recent weeks and scored a total of 90 points in the last two outings as well.
Against New Mexico State last Saturday, the host Aggies won their seventh straight WAC outing, the squad's longest conference win streak in more than three decades. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton threw his hat into the ring for WAC Offensive Player of the Week honors as he converted 16-of-26 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns, adding another 81 yards and two scores on the ground as he just came up shy of earning the weekly recognition.
Also playing a pivotal part for USU yet again was Kerwynn Williams who accounted for 82 rushing yards and one score on the ground as well as three catches for 94 yards and a TD through the air.
Despite having a 44-yard field goal attempt blocked in the fourth quarter, USU kicker Nick Diaz was recognized as the WAC Special Teams Player of the Week as he connected on his first-ever college field goal, a 53-yard try, the longest conversion for the Aggies since 2008.
Even though Diaz may have raised his visibility a bit with his performance against New Mexico State, the Aggies still operate on the assumption that Williams and Keeton will be doing most of the heavy lifting. Keeton may not be a household name outside of Logan, but if he continues to have four times as many TD pass (16) as he does INTs (four), maybe he won't be flying under the radar that much longer. The same goes for Williams who is responsible for seven rushing TDs and three through the air, posting a more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage.
The Aggies rank fourth in the country in sacks with 3.75 per game, but much of that has to do with their performance against San Jose State. But UTSA should still be prepared to fight hard at the line of scrimmage as Utah State forces the issue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 45, Texas-San Antonio 17
10/24 10:43:42 ET