Week 2 of the college football season features an in-state matchup with the I-35 rivalry between the UTSA Roadrunners and Texas State Bobcats, with the latter having the advantage of one game under their belts as the Bobcats fell to SMU last weekend 31-24. Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives to come out of last weekend for Texas State, namely the offense that racked up more than 400 yards of total offense and averaged over five yards a carry on the ground.
For UTSA, this will be the season opener under new head coach Jeff Traylor, who comes over after spending the last two years with Arkansas. And in true 2020 fashion, Traylor will face an immediate challenge right off the bat with eight players expected to be unavailable on Saturday due to COVID precautions. The good news for Traylor is he will assume a cornerstone piece in this rebuilding project in sophomore running back Sincere McCormick, who should become one of the best players in C-USA by the end of the season.
UTSA vs. Texas State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Texas State -8.5
When UTSA Has the Ball
Traylor's work with running backs over the years immediately stands out when looking back at his track record. During his first season at Arkansas in 2018, the Razorbacks racked up 1,721 yards and 11 touchdowns, followed by a 1,000-yard season by Rakeem Boyd in 2019. Prior to his time at Arkansas, Traylor spent the 2017 season as associate head coach and running backs coach at SMU under Chad Morris. In the one year with the Mustangs, Traylor's running backs piled up 2,223 yards on the ground, with three different players rushing for 500 yards or more.
That bodes well for the UTSA offense with the cornerstone being sophomore running back McCormick, who set numerous school records as a true freshman, including all-purpose yards (1,177) and the single-game rushing record (189 yards) in a way at UTEP. McCormick finished the year with 983 yards and eight touchdowns on just 177 attempts and was third nationally among FBS freshmen with 81.9 rush yards per game. McCormick will be heavily featured on Saturday.
When the Roadrunners take to the air, they will lean on the arm of new starting quarterback Josh Adkins who came over from New Mexico State during the offseason. Adkins fits the new offense under Traylor in that he is more of a pro-style quarterback, but he has thrown nearly as many interceptions (24) as he has touchdowns (27) in the last two years. Adkins will be aided by a strong receiving corps that features sophomore Zakhari Franklin and UMass transfer Brennon Dingle.
When Texas State Has the Ball
Untimely turnovers and inconsistent play doomed the Bobcats last week in their upset bid of SMU, but the eye-test showed this looks to be a much-improved Texas State team in 2020 after racking up over 400 yards of total offense. New starting quarterback Brady McBride spear-headed the offensive attack, completing 21-of-39 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and that performance reminded Traylor of another former quarterback that used to play his collegiate football in the state of Texas.
"He's scrappy," Traylor said of McBride to the media this week. "He can make plays with his feet and his arm. And he reminds me of Johnny Manziel like when he runs around back there and just makes plays out of nothing. He's going to give our defense fits. We're going to have to chase him and get him down and not get too discouraged when he makes plays. Because he's going to make a few plays. We just have to keep playing."
Texas State also got tremendous play out of its new duo at running back in Brock Sturges and Calvin Hill who combined for 195 yards and a touchdown last weekend against the Mustangs with both averaging north of 6.8 yards per carry on the day. The Bobcats finished 127th in the country last season at running the football and having that complementary piece to add to the offense this year could pay huge dividends. No shortage of options at wide receiver either as five players caught three or more passes in Week 1, including this highlight-reel snag from senior Jeremiah Haydel.
There are a number of things working against UTSA here. Road game, new coaching staff, depleted roster with eight players out due to COVID, and an opponent that has already gotten its feet wet with a game last weekend. The Bobcats also looked much-improved last week against SMU and seem to be trending upwards under second-year coach Jake Spavital now that he has a quarterback he can work with. Give me Texas State to win and cover as an 8.5-point favorite.
Prediction: Texas State 30, UTSA 20
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.
(Top photo courtesy of @TXSTATEFOOTBALL)