After kicking off the 2018 college football season with very different results, the Baylor Bears and UTSA Roadrunners are set to meet in a Week 2 non-conference matchup in San Antonio. Baylor controlled its game with FCS opponent Abilene Christian from the jump and cruised to a 55-27 victory — just the second win under head coach Matt Rhule, and the second in the program’s last 19 contests. The 55 points were the most the Bears had scored in a game since the 2016 season opener.
Meanwhile, the Roadrunners struggled to slow down a vicious Arizona State pass rush, which recorded an FBS-high nine sacks and held UTSA to just two rushing yards on 34 carries. UTSA also couldn’t slow down the Sun Devils’ offense, and left Tempe with a 49-7 loss — the most lopsided defeat under third-year head coach Frank Wilson.
Baylor vs. UTSA
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -15
Three Things to Watch
1. Multiple quarterbacks
Both Baylor and UTSA played multiple quarterbacks in Week 1, and all indications are we’ll see multiple signal-callers again. Baylor starter Charlie Brewer completed eight of 15 pass attempts for 138 yards and one interception while splitting time with NC State graduate transfer Jalan McClendon. The newcomer was particularly impressive, going 10-for-13 for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
UTSA also played a graduate transfer. Former SMU signal-caller D.J. Gillins relieved new starter Cordale Grundy in the second quarter, but under constant pressure, neither was sharp. Gillins completed just three of 10 pass attempts for 31 yards, and though he had the biggest run of the night for the Roadrunners on a 21-yard scamper, Gillins finished with -10 rushing yards after suffering several sacks. Grundy, who returned in the second half, orchestrated an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout. Overall, he was 16-for-33 through the air with an interception (which was returned for a touchdown on UTSA’s opening drive).
2. Is Baylor back?
It’s just one win, so the question following Big 12 rival Texas for roughly a decade, hasn’t made its way to Waco just yet. Nevertheless, the Bears’ Week 1 blowout was reminiscent of the wins Baylor piled up during the Art Briles era.
BU was very balanced on offense, posting an impressive 606 total yards, including 311 passing and 295 rushing. Both John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty ran for more than 100 yards and over nine yards per carry. Lovett gained 115 yards and scored three times on just 12 carries. Hasty added 102 yards and two touchdowns on 10 attempts.
Brewer and McClendon also spread the ball around in the passing game. Seven players caught passes. Hasty tied with Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd for the team lead with four receptions while All-Big 12 caliber wideout Denzel Mims led the team with 80 yards on three receptions including a 55-yarder. Hurd and Marques Jones each caught a touchdown pass from McClendon.
3. Domefield advantage?
Baylor snapped an eight-game home losing streak with its win last week (a stretch that included last year’s 17-10 upset at the hands of UTSA). It was the first victory for Rhule at McLane Stadium. But the Bears will have to wait at least a week for home win No. 2 because BU is travelling south to face UTSA in the Alamodome.
It may not be Death Valley, but UTSA has been good at the Alamodome. The Roadrunners have posted a winning record at home in each of the last two seasons. Baylor is the first road team to be favored at UTSA since 2016 when the Roadrunners upset 16-point favorite Southern Miss 55-32. UTSA also nearly knocked off Arizona State (the last Power 5 program to visit) that season before falling 32-28.
Baylor and UTSA were on opposite ends of blowout Week 1 results, but the last time these two met, the Roadrunners emerged victorious. In last season's opener, UTSA piled up 220 rushing yards (with Jalen Rhodes accounting for 103 of them) while the defense held the Bears to just 11 completions and a meager 2-for-12 on third down.
Matt Rhule, his staff and many of his young players experienced that disappointment and struggled to shake that feeling on the way to a disastrous 1-11 final record. But many newcomers weren’t part of that Baylor team, including quarterback Jalan McClendon and wide receiver Jalen Hurd, both of whom shined in the big win over Abilene Christian. On the other sideline, more than half the starters from last year’s UTSA squad are gone, and neither Roadrunners quarterback saw action.
In other words, it’s a new season, and these appear to be two very different teams than the ones that met last year in Waco. Expect the Bears' balanced offense to find success against the rebuilding Roadrunners.
Prediction: Baylor 38, UTSA 20
— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.
(Top photo courtesy of baylorbears.com)