Houston (3-0) at Texas-San Antonio (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 4:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alamodome (65,000) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: FSN. Home Record: Houston 1-0, UTSA 0-1. Away Record: Houston 1-0, UTSA 2-1. Neutral Record: Houston 1-0, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: Houston 1-0, UTSA 1-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Houston Cougars will put their perfect record on the line as they take on the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in non-conference action at the Alamodome.
Tony Levine took over the helm of Houston's program last season and suffered three losses before notching his first career win. The Cougars improved to 3-0 on the 2013 campaign last week with a 31-26 victory over their rival Rice in the annual battle for the Bayou Bucket. Houston coasted to a 62-13 rout of Southern in its season opener and defeated Temple 22-13, for its inaugural American Athletic Conference win the following week.
UTSA earned its inaugural win as a member of the Conference USA last week with a 32-13 decision over Texas-El Paso on the road. Since joining the FBS ranks last season, Larry Coker's Roadrunners are a combined 10-6, although the team was a member of the Western Athletic Conference a year ago. UTSA began its season with a 21-13 victory over New Mexico before consecutive losses to Oklahoma State (56-35) and Arizona (38-13).
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools. UTSA's football program is only in its third year of existence.
With David Piland sidelined with a concussion, true freshman John O'Korn started under center for Houston last week versus Rice. The 18-year old quarterback completed 15-of-33 pass attempts for 281 yards and three touchdowns, but also tossed his first pick of his career. Piland's status is questionable for this weekend. His starting position may be in jeopardy due to O'Korn's red-hot start which consists of 621 yards passing and six touchdowns on 62 percent efficiency.
The Cougars have had no trouble moving the chains and come in ranked 11th among FBS schools with an average of 548.3 yards of total offense per game. They have also produced 38.3 points per game, despite converting only 37 percent of their third down opportunities. The team's efficiency is likely to improve thanks to the dangerous wideout tandem of Deontay Greenberry and Daniel Spencer. Greenberry is having a breakout sophomore campaign with 26 catches, 381 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Spencer is second on the team in both receptions (16) and yards (218) to go along with three touchdown grabs. Levine also has a talented sophomore tailback in Ryan Jackson, who has already surpassed his 2012 totals with 316 yards and four touchdowns through three games.
The defense has made huge strides under the Cougars' new defensive coordinator David Gibbs. Houston has held its opponents to a combined 52 points through the first three games. The 52 points is the fewest allowed by the Cougars in the first three games of a season since giving up a combined 40 points during the first three games of the 1999 season. Junior linebacker is clearly the leader of the team with 30 total stops. Four different Cougars have recorded an interception already.
UTSA QB Eric Soza was picked off twice by Oklahoma State and once by Arizona prior to the team's C-USA opener. The senior signal caller bounced back against the Miners, finishing 18-of-24 for 204 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers. UTSA gained 385 yards of total offense and limited the Miners to just 218 on the night. David Glasco gained 52 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts while Brandon Freeman led the team with 53 yards receiving on one catch.
Soza keeps the defense guessing as he spreads the ball out among his teammates. The Texas State transfer completed passes to 12 different receivers, including a team-high four to Jarveon Williams for 23 yards in the win over the Miners. Freeman is one of four Roadrunners with more than 115 receiving yards this season. Kenny Bias and Cole Hubble have made a pair of touchdown grabs each. The Roadrunners are averaging 415.5 total offensive yards per game with 143.8 coming on the ground. Glasco is Coker's most productive tailback with 160 yards and three TDs on 32 carries.
The UTSA defense limited the Miners, who came into the contest ranked 12th among FBS schools with 286.5 rushing yards per game, to just 99 yards on 29 carries (3.4 ypc). UTEP scored its only touchdown on a kick return and went 6-of-15 on third-down conversion attempts. Drew Douglas led the defense with a career-high 11 tackles and Bennett Okotcha added nine stops and a pair of pass breakups. Triston Wade still sits atop the team's tackle leaderboard with 35 stops.
Houston's offense will challenge UTSA's secondary, which was torched for 518 yards passing and six touchdowns by the Cowboys in week two. The Cougars hold the upper hand as long as they can avoid turnovers. With either a freshman or a rusty QB lining up under center for Houston, the Roadrunners have to figure out a way to take advantage. Soza has proven himself as a great field general which will play a huge factor if the Roadrunners can keep it close until the final stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 31, Texas-San Antonio 27
09/25 10:31:47 ET