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UAB vs. UTSA Odds & Picks: Back Roadrunners to Keep Perfect Season Alive

UAB vs. UTSA Odds & Picks: Back Roadrunners to Keep Perfect Season Alive article feature image

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Sincere McCormick.

  • The UAB Blazers enter their game against the UTSA Roadrunners as +3.5 underdogs on Saturday afternoon.
  • The Roadrunners are looking to keep their perfect season alive, but the Blazers pose a significant challenge on defense.
  • Read on for Mike Ianniello's top bet.

UAB vs. UTSA Odds

Saturday, Nov. 20
3:30 p.m. ET
UAB Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Legendary pro wrestler Ric Flair once said, “To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”

UTSA has a chance to do just that, as a win Saturday will clinch a berth in the Conference USA Championship game for the first time in program history.

In order to do so, it will need to knock off the defending conference champion. UAB has won the West Division three straight years and the conference title in two of the last three. The Blazers are surely not willing to pass the torch yet and will give the Roadrunners everything they have to show they are still the top dog in the conference.

Head coach Jeff Traylor has guided UTSA to the best season in school history, off to a 10-0 start and ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll. In order to reach the top, it will need to slay the dragon that has beaten it four years in a row.

UAB Blazers

Blazers Offense

Despite winning the conference last season, UAB finished just 65th in the country in Success Rate on offense.

Although quarterback Tyler Johnston returned for his fifth season and owns two Conference USA Championship wins as the starter, there was still a quarterback competition coming into the season. Johnston competed with Dylan Hopkins and Bryson Lucero who have all started games for the Blazers over the last three years.

Johnston won the job and started the first three games before being benched in favor of Hopkjns. The junior has started every game since, tossing 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, although he has 10 turnover-worthy plays.

UAB’s passing attack isn’t necessarily consistent, ranking 56th in Passing Success Rate, but when they do connect on passes they pick up big yards, ranking seventh in big plays.

The Blazers are just 85th in the country in passing yards per game, but they have been efficient as they rank fifth with 9.7 yards per attempt.

Blazers Defense

Defense continues to be the calling card for Bill Clark’s squad. The Blazers lead Conference USA by allowing just 320.2 yards per game and 4.9 yards per play.

While UTSA’s defense ranks 12th in Rushing Success Rate allowed, UAB’s defense is not far behind at 15th. Teams are averaging just 109.9 yards per game on the ground against UAB.

The Blazers have one of the best front sevens in the nation. They rank 11th in Line Yards and seventh in pass rush. Outside linebacker Alex Wright leads them, as he has dialed up 43 total pressures this season.

Passing the ball is no easy task against the Blazers, either. They don’t give up big plays and have the eighth-best coverage grade in the country, per PFF. They have held their opponents under 240 passing yards in five straight games.

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UTSA Roadrunners

Roadrunners Offense

We knew coming into the year that the Roadrunners had one of the best running backs in the conference, if not the country, in Sincere McCormick.

The 2020 Conference USA Player of the Year is leading the conference in rushing for the second year in a row with 115.0 yards per game and has 11 touchdowns. He ranks third in the country with 23.1 carries per game.

McCormick also runs behind an experienced offensive line that ranks 40th in Line Yards.

SEE U LATER @yoboisin 👋👋👋

Sincere McCormick busts up the middle for another @UTSAFTBL touchdown!

📺 >

— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) October 24, 2021

The biggest reason for the Roadrunners’ breakout season has been the emergence of quarterback Frank Harris. He has his team ranked 15th in the country in Passing Success Rate and has been one of the most improved players in the country this year.

  • Frank Harris in 2020: 12 touchdowns, six interceptions, 63.6% completion rate, 135.8 yards per game, 6.5 yards per attempt.
  • Frank Harris in 2021: 20 touchdowns, five interceptions, 66.7% completion rate, 230.6 yards per game, 8.1 yards per attempt.

Harris has three great weapons in Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus and De’Corian Clark.

All three average over 45 yards per game and have at least five touchdowns on the year. Franklin leads the team and is second in the conference with eight scores.

Roadrunners Defense

In a season full of returning players across the country, few units returned more production this year than the Roadrunners defense. They returned all 11 starters and their top-14 tacklers, and the experience and talent is showing on the field.

This defense has been the best in the conference this year, allowing just 19.0 points per game. They have held opponents to 17 points or fewer in three of the last four games.

Don’t expect to run on the Roadrunners as their front seven has been a brick wall that even Wile E. Coyote couldn’t break through. UTSA has allowed just 89.9 yards per game on the ground this year and ranks 12th in the country in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

Opponents have managed just 2.7 yards per carry this year. Only Wisconsin, Georgia and Alabama have allowed fewer yards per carry on the ground than the Roadrunners.

When opponents pass, UTSA is able to get into the backfield with its front seven, ranking 14th in pass rush and 17th in Havoc created.

The star of this defense is All-Conference safety Rashad Wisdom. The hard-hitting safety leads the team in tackles (his 62 tackles are 18 more than any other Roadrunner) and flies all over the field making plays. He is terrific both against the run and the pass and is the heartbeat of this defense.

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UAB vs. UTSA Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UAB and UTSA match up statistically:

UAB Offense vs. UTSA Defense
Rush Success4112
Line Yards4635
Pass Success5664
Pass Blocking**714
Big Play2326
Finishing Drives5634
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

UTSA Offense vs. UAB Defense
Rush Success6415
Line Yards4011
Pass Success1527
Pass Blocking**1177
Big Play6613
Finishing Drives3162
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling31113
Middle 8596
SP+ Special Teams9636
Plays per Minute12645
Rush Rate63.9% (10)56.5% (56)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

UAB vs. UTSA Betting Pick

These two teams have the two best records in Conference USA, and it all comes down to this to decide which team gets to play for the conference championship.

For UTSA, it would be the first time in program history. For UAB, it would be the fourth straight trip to the title game.

The Roadrunners have had a magical season, but this will be their toughest test of the year. If they want to finish this season the way they want, they will need to literally slay the dragon to get the top.

They have the right formula to do it though. In UAB’s three losses, it’s struggled to stop the run, allowing 172.3 yards per game on the ground.

UTSA’s strength is stopping the run, and UAB has the 10th highest rushing rate in the country. The Blazers want to run the ball, but the Roadrunners are excellent at defending it.

When UAB does pass the ball, it relies on big plays to pick up yards, but UTSA ranks 26th at preventing big plays and has two great safeties to keep the ball in front of it.

Expect the Roadrunners to dial up the pressure, as they have a huge advantage in creating Havoc against the Blazers, who rank 105th at preventing Havoc.

Traylor, Harris, McCormick and the rest of this Roadrunners team are having a magical season, and I like them to keep it rolling and continue their run as they slay the dragon and head to the conference title game. Meep Meep!

Pick: UTSA -4.5 (Play to -6)

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