Texas State vs UTSA Odds & Predictions: Lock in Total in I-35 Rivalry
Via Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Frank Harris #0 of the UTSA Roadrunners runs with the bal against the Houston Cougars during the first half at TDECU Stadium on September 02, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Texas State vs UTSA Odds
The Texas State Bobcats pulled the biggest upset of the college football season in their 42-31 win against Baylor last weekend as 27-point underdogs.
This week, they face the UTSA Roadrunners, who will look to give Texas State coach G.J. Kinne his first loss at the FBS level.
There will be plenty of fireworks at the Alamodome as two high-powered offenses clash while defense could be optional.
This total has been on the rise all week, but is there still value on the over in this matchup?
Find a betting pick, preview and prediction below for Saturday's matchup between the Texas State Bobcats and the UTSA Roadrunners in the I-35 Rivalry.
Transfer quarterback TJ Finley led the way for the Bobcats in their upset win in Waco. The dual-threat quarterback is playing for his third school after playing for LSU in 2020 and Auburn in 2021 and 2022.
He put together an impressive performance in Week 1, as he threw for three touchdowns, no interceptions and added another score on the ground. He also recorded a career-high 298 passing yards and a nearly perfect 96.2 QBR.
The Bobcats put up a 95th-percentile EPA per drop back, but only ranked in the 20th percentile in EPA per Rush. Overall, this was good for a 47th-percentile Success Rate and 74th-percentile EPA per Play.
This was a shocking performance for a Texas State squad that went 4-8 last year before hiring Kinne from Incarnate Word. The Cardinals have been known for their offense — which vaulted them to the FCS semifinals last year — but no one thought Texas State had a chance against Baylor.
Seven starters returned for Texas State this year, with a number of transfers joining the team as well, especially from Incarnate Word. The Bobcats needed a fresh start after ranking just 109th in Success Rate and 84th in Finishing Drives last year.
It’s hard to tell what this offense may look like under Kinne, but his tenure is off to a promising start, to say the least.
The Bobcats were led by their defense last year, as they ranked 50th in Success Rate and 53rd in Finishing Drives. Their biggest strength came against the run, ranking 24th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.
This year, only four starters return on defense, allowing new defensive coordinator Jonathan Patke (also from UIW) to start from scratch.
Last week, Baylor ranked in the 61st percentile in Offensive Success Rate and in the 58th percentile in EPA per Play. The Bears also recorded an impressive 89th-percentile EPA per drop back.
With this fast-paced offense and a lack of experience for Texas State, I would count on the defense not being as strong in 2023.
After going 11-3 last year and winning the Conference USA Championship, Jeff Traylor’s squad makes the jump up to the American Athletic Conference. He and the Roadrunners are looking to bounce back after a 17-14 loss at Houston in Week 1.
The Roadrunners only mustered a 29th-percentile Success Rate and 47th-percentile EPA against the Cougars. They were better on the ground than through the air, as they ranked in the 82nd percentile in EPA per Rush compared to the 27th-percentile in EPA per drop back.
This was the opposite of how the team performed last year. In 2022, UTSA ranked 14th nationally in Offensive Success Rate and 29th in Finishing Drives. The UTSA passing game led the way, as it ranked sixth in Success Rate and 13th in PPA (Predicted Points Added).
Quarterback Frank Harris returns for his seventh year in San Antonio. In Week 1, he only completed 50% of his passes, as he threw for 209 yards, one touchdown and tied a career high with three interceptions. While he needs to be better against Texas State, I believe he'll bounce back in a big way.
Passing defense will be of the utmost importance against Texas State. This is definitely the weaker part of the UTSA defense, ranking 35th in Passing Success Rate Allowed last year and 61st in EPA per drop back.
The Cougars recorded a 40th-percentile EPA per drop back compared to ranking in just the 15th percentile against the run against the Roadrunners' defense in Week 1.
Texas State vs. UTSA
Betting Pick & Prediction
UTSA’s offense is likely the best unit in this game, and Harris will put up big numbers against this inexperienced Bobcats defense.
On the other side, Texas State will also score. Kinne’s teams have put a ton of points on the board with him as a coach. Almost every game at UIW last year turned into a shootout, as his offense couldn't be stopped, but his defense couldn’t get one.
UTSA ranked 24th in pace last year, and while its defense is better than Baylor’s, Texas State will score enough to put this game over the total.
UTSA's defense is vulnerable against the pass, and Finley and the Bobcats should expose this weakness.
The total has already increased dramatically this week, but I still don’t believe the books are adjusting for what this Texas State team will look like. The current total sits at 66.5 when it should be closer to 70. I would bet the over up to 68.5 points.