After hosting winless Division II Northwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday, the UTSA Roadrunners probably won't have to worry about overconfidence for a while.
"The teams don't get easier down the road," UTSA coach Larry Coker said. "They get harder. We've got to make sure and do what we need to do to win this football game."
The Roadrunners have started their second season 3-0, but the combined record of the teams they've beaten is 1-8.
UTSA begins its transition to the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A, next week against New Mexico State in its Western Athletic Conference opener.
After an open date Oct. 6, the Roadrunners face Rice in a nonconference road game before playing out their schedule against six consecutive WAC opponents. UTSA faces rival Texas State in its season finale on Nov. 24, two days after Thanksgiving, at the Alamodome.
UTSA, which played its first season last year as an independent in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA, will jump to Conference USA next season.
But first things first.
"When you start thinking about next week, this week will fly by and kick you in the butt," Roadrunners quarterback Eric Soza said. "We try not to worry about that. There will be a time to worry about that, and that'll be next week on Monday."
Northwestern Oklahoma QB hasn't thrown an interception
Northwestern Oklahoma is 0-3 and has been outscored 159-48, but Coker and his players have said all week they expect the Rangers to play their best game of the season against UTSA.
Kickoff for the game, which has been designated Hispanic Heritage Day by UTSA, is at 1 p.m.
Northwestern Oklahoma State is coming off a 63-21 loss to Truman State (Mo.).
"Obviously, this team's record hasn't been good, but they can cause you a lot of problems because they do a lot of blitzing, stunting, a lot of movement (on defense)," Coker said of Northwestern Oklahoma. "When they do that, we've got to do a good job of protecting the football.
"This will be a huge game for them, their game of the year. It's the Super Bowl, largest crowd they'll play in front of. And they've got their backs to the wall. We'll have a challenge, but again, we're trying to play up to our level and set our standards. We haven't done that yet."
Coker said he expects his defense to be tested by Northwestern Oklahoma quarterback Kyle Jech, who has completed 96 of 153 passes with no interceptions for 849 yards and five touchdowns.
"We're pretty excited to go against a challenge like that," UTSA junior cornerback Erik Brown said, referring to the fact Jech has yet to throw an interception this season. "It's a team that throws the ball a lot, and it's up to us in the secondary to hold it down for the defense."
UTSA's running game rounding into form
Brown, who had an interception in last week's 38-14 dismantling of Georgia State in Atlanta, made it clear the Roadrunners won't be caught looking ahead to their WAC opener.
"Right now we're just focused on Northwestern," Brown said. "We're working on the game right now. We're not worried about the WAC. It's very important to win this game. Very important."
The Rangers are averaging 312.7 yards offensively, but are giving up an average of 491.3. Look for UTSA, which churned out 225 yards rushing last week, to pound the ball on the ground again.
UTSA is averaging 390.3 yards in total defense and has yielded an average of 274.7 yards.
Tailback David Glasco II, who rushed for 55 yards on only four carries against Georgia State before leaving the game with a lower back injury, is expected to start. Junior Evans Okotcha, who splits time with Glasco, ran for a school-record three TDs in the victory at the Georgia Dome.
Okotcha said one of the Roadrunners' top priorities this season has been to be consistent in their preparation each week.
"We're going to attack each team with the same mentality," Okotcha said. "And not let let up or overhype any team. We're just going to go into practice each week, grind it out and hopefully come out victorious week in and week out. We don't want to get into a game where we're underestimating a team or overthinking about a team.
"As a team, we want to control what we can control. If we lose, we would want a team to beat us and not us defeat ourselves in terms of foolish penalties, blown assignments, stuff like that. We just want to control what we can control and let everything else play itself out."