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Here's how UTSA has fared in prior bowl games

The Roadrunners are hoping their third time in a bowl matchup will be the charm as they cap a historic season.

SAN ANTONIO — As the weather steadily cooled in San Antonio this fall, the UTSA Roadrunners' status as a potential Texas powerhouse heated up. Soon they'll be vying to cement that reputation. 

After powering their way through a dominant regular season that saw the program win its first 11 games, finish 11-1, pop up in the AP Top 25 Poll and achieve its first Conference USA title over Western Kentucky, head coach Jeff Traylor's team will head north to take on San Diego State in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. 

While the Dec. 21 matchup won't be the first taste of bowl-game action UTSA football has seen in its 11-year history, the 'Runners are still searching for their first bowl game victory. Here's how the team did in its prior invitations, which the Roadrunners lost by a combined margin of 10 points. 

2016 New Mexico Bowl 

After finishing its first year under Frank Wilson with a 6-7 record, UTSA traveled to the neighboring Land of Enchantment for a date with the hometown University of New Mexico Lobos. The 'Runners scored first, with Victor Falcon nailing a 23-yeard field goal to put UTSA up, 3-0. 

But that was also the last time they would enjoy an advantage. The Lobos scampered into the endzone from 1 yard out to take the lead later in the first frame and would eventually hang on for victory in a matchup largely unfolding on the ground; the teams combined for 465 rush yards to just 195 passing yards. 

UTSA would make UNM work for the win, however, keeping the matchup close and bringing the Lobos to within 3 in the fourth quarter when JaBryce Taylor hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Sturm with less than a minute on the clock. New Mexico nailed down triumph after recovering an ensuing onside kick, beating UTSA 23-20 in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000 despite being outgained on offense. 

2020 First Responder Bowl

Originally scheduled to play Southern Methodist in the 2020 Frisco Bowl, UTSA instead capped a successful first campaign under Traylor by doing battle with the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns after a COVID-19 outbreak forced SMU to withdraw. Himself having tested positive for coronavirus in the days leading up to the First Responder Bowl, Traylor didn't travel with the team to Dallas, and assistant coach Barry Lunney Jr. filled in for the game. 

The Roadrunners were coming off a 7-4 season ahead of the Dec. 26, 2020 game, having finished on a three-game winning streak. Their opponent was even hotter; the Ragin' Cajuns only lost one game all season, way back in mid-October. 

Louisiana asserted itself in the first half of the matchup, amassing a 24-7 lead in front of a pandemic-era crowd of just 3,500. Eventual MVP Elijah Mitchell punctuated his team's early success by reaching the endzone to begin the third quarter. 

That's when the Roadrunners kicked it into another gear. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris threw a pair of touchdown passes over the coming minutes, and Hunter Duplessis tied the game up at 24-24 with a field goal early in the fourth. 

The Roadrunners' comeback bid would sputter out there. Louisiana answered with a 1-yard touchdown run that took over six minutes off the clock, and the Ragin' Cajun defense clamped down to prevent UTSA from creating any more drama. Louisiana went on to win a classic, 31-24, as UTSA dropped to 0-2 in bowl games all time. 

What's next?

UTSA is hoping for a different result as they prepare to trek to Dallas for a bowl game matchup for the second straight year. Standing in their way is a San Diego State Aztecs team which has amassed an 11-2 record, but is coming off a 46-13 drubbing at the hands of Utah State in the Mountain West title game. 

Something will have to give when the Roadrunners and Aztecs meet at Toyota Stadium. UTSA is offensively stout, scoring 37.8 points per game this season (12th in college football) while SDSU's iron defense has given up just 19.5 points per matchup (17th). 

The Dec. 21 game will be the first meeting between the Roadrunners and San Diego State.