It's difficult to find positives in a 21-point loss, but here's one if you're a UTSA football fan: The Roadrunners scored more points in one quarter against Oklahoma State on Saturday than Mississippi State scoredon the Cowboys in an entire game last week.
And that's saying something, considering Mississippi State plays in the powerful Southeastern Conference and UTSA is only in its third season.
No. 13 OSU rolled to a 56-35 victory against the Roadrunners before a crowd of 40,977 at the Alamodome, but the Cowboys left San Antonio with a healthy respect for the FBS program Coach Larry Coker is building at UTSA.
OSU improved to 2-0 and UTSA, which plays at Arizona next Saturday, slipped to 1-1.
That's a pretty good football team over there, OSU coach Mike Gundy said. I think their quarterback is a really good player. They've got some skilled receivers that can catch. They've got some good schemes on offense and they are very well coached.
Gundy should know. He played quarterback at OSU for four seasons in the 1980s when Coker was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator.
Mississippi State, by the way, was held to a field goal in its 21-3 loss to OSU in their season opener last week.
While UTSA's defense was torched for 605 yards by the Cowboys' hurry-up spread offense, the Roadrunners' set a school record for total offense with 504 yards.
Granted, UTSA scored 28 points in the fourth quarter against mostly backups afterfalling behind42-7. But the Roadrunners moved the ball effectivelybefore Gundy started pulling his starters, gaining 332 yards through three quarters.
We had 31 first downs, 369 passing yards, 504 total yards and 34 minutes total possession, Coker said. If you had told me that before the game starts, I would have slept a lot better last night. But they had great numbers, too.
They're a good team. Mike has done a great job. Oklahoma State is a team now that expects to win. At one time I don't know if they always expected to win.
The Cowboys got 518 of their 605 yards through the air, with starter J.W. Walsh and backup Clint Chelf combining for 35 completions in 43 attempts and six touchdowns. Walsh hit 24 of 27 passes, the highest single-game completion percentage in school history, for 326 yards and four TDs.
Steele graduate Simmons picked off Soza pass
UTSA senior quarterback Eric Soza completed 24 of 41 passes for 308 yards and three TDs, two to sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bias, who finished with three catches for 96 yards and scored on a 6-yard run.
Soza was intercepted twice, the first coming when sophomore tight end David Morgan bobbled a sure catch and the second an errant throw that was picked off by linebacker Ryan Simmons. A Steele High School graduate, Simmons returned the interception 27 yards and set up the TD that put OSU up 35-7 at the half.
He played well today, Coker said of Soza, who has been the Roadrunners' starter since their first game in 2011. Sometimes we expect him to be perfect and when he has an incompletion, we wonder what's wrong.
There are no moral victories in college football. It's a multimillion-dollar business that can be as unforgiving as any on Wall Street.
But the Roadrunners can take solace in knowing they played OSU closer than most of the so-called experts figured, even if they did give up 56 points and 605 yards. Favored by 28 points, the Cowboys were simply too fast, strong, athletic and deep for UTSA.
The flip side is that UTSA, which has played only 24 games in its history, piled up 504 yards against a team favored to win the Big 12. All told, OSU outgained the Roadrunners by only 101 yards.
Thirty-five points on the No. 13 team and Mississippi State only put up three against them, senior linebacker Steven Kurfehs said. That's pretty fantastic if you ask me.
Still, a loss is a loss.
Five-hundred yards on offense is great, but at the end of the day we still have the 'L,' Soza said. You have to find the positives and you learn more when you lose than when you win.
OSU scored35 unanswered points to take 42-7 lead
Junior safety Nic Johnston expressed frustration when asked about the challenge of trying to slow down the OSU offense.
They are one of the fastest teams in the country, and we knew that going in, Johnston said. We actually haven't played a team that went this fast, but it is a learning experience. We kind of got the rhythm of the game early, but we were literally fingertips away from making plays.
When you mess up, they can get you by hurrying up for the next play and it can start a downward spiral. They just kept those drives going. It's all about making that big play and with this hurry-up offense, if you mess up, it can spiral down and turn into a touchdown.
OSU scored first, but UTSA tied it up on the ensuing possession when Bias scored on a 6-yard end-around play. The Cowboys took the lead for good on their next possession, starting a run of35 unanswered points that put them ahead 42-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
But just when it appeared OSU would embarrass the Roadrunners, Soza completed TD passes of 10 yards to junior tight end Cole Hubble and 19 yards to Bias in the first 2:45 of the fourth period to pull UTSA to within 42-21. The Roadrunners could draw no closer, though.
The teams exchanged TDs the rest of the way, keeping the fans who remained entertained. Even UTSA junior backup quarterback Tucker Carter got in the scoring summary, hitting sophomore wide receiver Aaron Grubb with a 15-yard TD pass with 1:14 left.
UTSA has come a long way since playing Northeast Oklahoma in its first game two years ago. Obviously,theRoadrunners stillhave much work to do beforethey can play on even terms with some of the big boys.
But Coker definitely hasthe fledgling program headed in the right direction. And for right now, that's more than half the battle.