Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#389 UTSA 58 vs.
#390 North Texas -18.5
Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 7:30pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#389 University of Texas at San Antonio
#390 University of North Texas
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The UTSA Roadrunners will head on the road to Apogee Stadium on Saturday night of a non-conference in-state rivalry game versus the North Texas Mean Green.

These two teams will meet for the seventh time on Saturday and the series is split at an even three games apiece, but the Mean Green are 2-1 in games played in Denton, Texas. The Roadrunners are 3-3 in conference openers since joining Conference USA and UTSA should start to get comfortable at home, as they won’t leave the state of Texas until a Nov. 9 matchup versus Old Dominion. UTSA and North Texas enter with identical 1-2 records and their last two meetings have been decided by just three points each. Can UTSA come out on top versus North Texas in what will be the conference opener for both teams on Saturday night?

Fine ready to lead Mean Green to victory once again vs. UTSA

The Mean Green gave PAC 12 foe California all that it could handle, but ultimately came up short in last week’s 24-17 defeat. Senior quarterback Mason Fine threw for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception so far this season. Sophomore running Tre Siggers continued to lead the team in rushing with 88 yards on 18 carries, giving him a team-high 252 yards (7.0 yards per carry) for the season. The Mean Green held Cal to just 278 yards of total offense and only 3.1 yards per carry, but were ultimately doomed by a poor first quarter. North Texas started the game off slowly, falling behind 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, but they out-scored Cal 17-3 the rest of the way. They stacked the box all night on defense, but failed to stop Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers, who finished with a career-high 70 rushing yards to go along with 129 passing yards and a score on the night.

Ball security will be a major concern for Fine and the Mean Green once again this week. The senior quarterback has tossed an interception in each of the team’s first three games after totaling five picks all of last season. Some of the finest moments of Fine’s career came against the Roadrunners, who orchestrated a 98-yard game-winning touchdown drive in 2017 and drove the Mean Green down the field to win it for the second year in a row last season.

The big story in last week’s game for North Texas came when top wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. caught a ball and came down awkwardly on his right leg. He left the game and did not return. Head coach Steve Littrell is not ready to comment on his status, but Bussey’s loss would be a big one for the Mean Green. He had four catches four 156 yards and a score in the team’s lone victory versus Abilene Christian. Redshirt freshman Jyaire Shorter came up big in his absence, catching five passes for 68 yards to go along with the first touchdown of his career. Meanwhile, Jaelon Darden led the team in receiving with two catches for 75 yards and a touchdown on the day.

UTSA hopes to continue to build fan base with victory

Fresh off two ACL surgeries, quarterback Frank Harris opened the season as the Roadrunners’ starting quarterback and he hasn’t disappointed, leading C-USA in completion percentage at 72.5 percent. He’s thrown for 486 passing yards and three touchdowns this season and he added 123 rushing yards in the team’s lone victory versus Incarnate Word. The sophomore quarterback briefly left last week’s game against Army and there were some question marks surrounding his status this week, but The San Antonio Express-News reported that Harris will be ready to go this week.

UTSA uses a balanced approach on offense. They have nearly as many rushing yards (499) as they do through the air (517), thanks to Sinclare McCormick, who leads the team in rushing with 188 yards and three touchdowns for the season.

UTSA’s defense has allowed just 371 yards per game, including only 125.7 yards per game through the air. Of course, that number is a bit skewed after allowing a combined 708 rushing yards to Army and Baylor over the past two weeks.

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A rivalry seems to be brewing between UTSA and North Texas. North Texas had to pay its dues in the FCS and then the Sun Belt before joining the C-USA conversation, while UTSA jumped right into the league when they introduced their football program a decade ago. North Texas has the benefit of having Mason Fine under center and the senior has orchestrated game-winning drives versus the Roadrunners in each of the last two seasons. The past two meetings have been decided by just three points but the gap between these two teams is wider this season. Even with some key injuries on offense, expect the Mean Green to cover the spread at home in this Conference USA opener on Saturday night.

Prediction: North Texas -19

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These two teams have gone under the projected total in each of their last four meetings and they are pegged for 58 points here. Both teams are surrendering over 33 points per game on the defensive end, but UTSA has averaged just 13.5 points over their past two contests and North Texas has averaged only 22 points per game over their past two games. I expect the Mean Green to control the clock and time of possession by keeping the ball on the ground in this game. Take this Conference USA battle to stay under the projected total on Thursday night.

Prediction: Under 58
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.