Posted on September 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM
Wednesday, Sep 25 at 2:44 PM
Comparing how two teams fared against common opponents can be tricky when trying to predict the outcome of their head-to-head matchup.
But in the case of UTSA's Conference USA debut against UTEP on Saturday night, it figured that the Roadrunners had a good chance of beating the Miners.
As things turned out, comparing their scores against a common opponent was sound logic.
UTSA made its first trip to El Paso a memorable one at the venerable Sun Bowl, rolling to a 32-13 victory that snapped the Roadrunners' two-game skid.
The win also reflects how quickly UTSA, playing in only in third season and picked to finish last in the C-USA West Division, is growing up.
In beating UTEP, the Roadrunners won a conference opener in a new league on the road for the second consecutive season. UTSA defeated New Mexico State 35-14 in its Western Athletic Conference debut last Sept. 29 in Las Cruces. The Roadrunners went 3-3 in WAC play and finished fourth in the seven-team race.
UTSA (2-2) plays the University of Houston (3-0) in a nonconference game at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. The Cougars, who play in the American Athletic Conference, beat C-USA team Rice 31-26 Saturday.
The Roadrunners and UTEP had one common opponent, New Mexico, heading into their game Saturday night. UTSA beat the Lobos 21-13 on the road in their opener, and the Miners lost to New Mexico 42-35 in overtime -- in El Paso -- a week later.
UTSA didn't have a turnover for first time this season
UTSA beat UTEP (1-2) because the Roadrunners' offensive line, defense and senior quarterback Eric Soza turned in outstanding performances.
Soza, who is so steady he's often taken for granted by his teammates and coaches, completed 18 of24 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown.
The Roadrunners finished with 385 yards of total offense, including a season-high 181 on the ground. Junior running back David Glasco II was the top ground gainer, finishing with 52 yards on 10 carries and one TD.
UTSA's interior offensive line is manned by tackles Cody Harris and Josh Walker, center Nate Leonard, and guards Scott Inskeep and William Cavanaugh. All are juniors except Cavanaugh, a sophomore.
After recording five turnovers in their first games, the Roadrunners didn't fumble or have a pass intercepted Saturday night. But neither did the Miners, leaving UTSA -4 in takeaways this season.
UTEP led 10-7 after one quarter, but the Roadrunners scored 18 unanswered points in the second period to go up 25-10 at halftime.
UTSA held the Miners to 99 yards rushing on 29 carries and 218 yards of total offense. UTEP went into the game averaging 286.5 yards rushing, 12th among Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
The Roadrunners' defense held the Miners without a TD, allowing just two field goals. UTEP's only TD came on a 100-yard kickoff by Autry Golden in the first quarter.
Sophomore linebacker Drew Douglas had a career-high 12 tackles and sophomore cornerback Bennett Okotcha had nine to pace the UTSA defense. Okotcha, who transferred from Oklahoma last year, is the younger brother of junior running back Evans Okotcha.
UTSA must take winnable games
Miners quarterback Jameill Showers found the going tough all night, completing 17 of 31 passes for just 119 yards.
UTEP lost a conference opener at home for the first time since 2004.
The bottom line here is that this was a winnable game for UTSA. With all due respect to UTEP, the Miners aren't in the same league with Oklahoma State and Arizona, which beat UTSA by 21 and 25 points, respectively.
Roadrunners coach Larry Coker was right when he said UTSA wouldn't play a better team than OSU and Arizona the rest of the season.
Give UTSA credit for beating UTEP on the road. If it's a winnable game, the Roadrunners must take it because they're going to be underdogs in most of the games they play.
That certainly will be the case when they face UH, which plays in C-USA for 17 seasons before moving to the American Athletic Conference this year.
Former UTSA offensive coordinator Travis Bush is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Cougars. He is assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator.
Although they were picked to finish in the C-USA West Division cellar this season, the Roadrunners may be tougher to beat than people think.
UTEP discovered that Saturday night.