The UTSA Roadrunners (1-5, 1-1) head out on the road as they lock up with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-3, 1-1) in a Conference USA matchup Saturday night. UTSA clawed their way to a 12-10 win in the most recent meeting between the teams at home November 13, 2014. Southern Miss covered the line in that contest as they were a 7 point underdog in the game.
UTSA is coming off a 34-31 home defeat to Louisiana Tech last week to end their win streak at one. Southern Miss was clipped 31-10 by Marshall last week to fall back to the .500 mark on the year. This game is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 pm ET from M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and will not have national television coverage. Southern Miss is currently a 9 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 58 points.
UTSA rallied from 24-10 and 31-17 deficits to tie the score early in the fourth quarter only to give up the game winning field goal with 10 seconds to play. Looking at the raw numbers, it’s hard to see how the Roadrunners were that close in the game: they were outgained 444-300, gave up 24 first downs while picking up 15 and allowed Louisiana Tech to win the time of possession battle 35:41 to 24:19 in the contest. The only stat where the teams were even was in turnovers as both teams committed a pair of giveaways; one of UTSA’s giveaways was a pick six, which proved crucial.
The Roadrunners average 212 yards per game (82nd in the nation) through the air and 149.2 yards on the ground (94th in the nation) this season. UTSA puts up 22 points per game and they’ve struggled defensively as they are 108th in scoring defense by allowing 35.7 points per game. Blake Bogenschutz is the starter at quarterback; he’s hit 59.1 percent of his passes for 897 yards with four touchdowns and four picks. Bogenschutz missed the Louisiana Tech game with a concussion and likely won’t play in this one either. That means Dalton Sturm (25 of 42, 336 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 160 rushing yards) is likely to make his second straight start. Jarveon Williams is the lead back in the run game as he has 105 carries for 530 yards and four scores while Jalen Rhodes (28 carries, 129 yards, 2 TD) is the second back in the system. In the passing game, Bogenschutz and Sturm can look for David Morgan II (29 receptions, 352 yards, 4 TD), Aaron Grubb (20 grabs, 151 yards) and Kerry Thomas Jr. (19 catches, 236 yards, TD) to move the sticks. Daniel Portillo has struggled in the kicking game as he is 14 of 16 on extra points but just 6 of 12 on field goals this year; he’s 0 for 5 from 40 to 49 yards though he hit a 51 yard kick.
Southern Miss led 10-7 in the second quarter but didn’t score after that as Marshall reeled off the last 24 points in the contest. The Golden Eagles outgained the Thundering Herd 439-277 in the contest, had 26 first downs to 14 for Marshall and held the ball for 32:22 to Marshall’s 27:38 in the contest. Southern Miss was done in by turnovers as they committed five in the contest; one was returned for a score on a strip sack, leading to a fumble return. Ending up a -4 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio will hurt even the best teams in the nation.
The Golden Eagles currently are 13th in the nation in passing with an average of 334.2 yards per game; they are 73rd in rushing with an average of 167.5 yards per game. Southern Miss averages 35 points per game; they are allowing 28.5 points per contest, which has them 83rd in the nation in scoring defense. Nick Mullens has hit 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,005 yards with 15 touchdowns and four picks while averaging 8.15 yards per pass attempt. The Golden Eagles have a solid 1-2 punch on the ground with Jalen Richard (82 carries, 452 yards, 5 TD) and Ito Smith (54 carries, 411 yards, 3 TD) help move the sticks on the ground. Casey Martin is the team’s leading receiver with 38 grabs for 424 yards and five scores; Michael Thomas (25 receptions, 445 yards, 4 TD) and Smith has been a solid receiver out of the backfield with 22 grabs for 298 yards and a score. Southern Miss has had two kickers this season; they’ve combined for 28 of 28 on extra points and five of 10 on field goals.
Southern Miss is 4-0 ATS in their last four after a straight up loss by at least 20 points, 5-1 ATS in their last six against teams with a losing record and 5-1 ATS in their last six overall. UTSA is 3-9 ATS in their last 12 after a straight up loss and 0-4 ATS in their last four after running for less than 100 yards in their last game.
UTSA may have gotten a boost from Sturm starting instead of Bogenschutz last week but he’ll have to prove that he can do that again here. Southern Miss has played better than in recent years and they outplayed Marshall for long stretches despite getting drilled on the scoreboard. The Golden Eagles have the edge playing at home and should win this one by double figures to deal another loss to the Roadrunners.