The conference championships will be decided in college football this weekend, and it all kicks off Friday night in San Antonio, Texas. The UTSA Roadrunners will welcome the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to the Alamodome to nominate the United States Conference champion, and this conference title showdown is a battle between two teams that appear to be heading in different directions. for the moment.
UTSA have been something of a Cinderella throughout the season, ending the regular season with an 11-1 record and appearing in College Football Playoff Rankings. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, they start the weekend after their first loss of the season, losing 45-23 to North Texas last week. The Roadrunners’ defense has been one of the best in the conference, but has allowed 76 points in the last two games. Offensive stars like quarterback Frank Harris, running back Sincere McCormick and wide receiver Zakhari Franklin might need big days on Friday to avoid a second straight loss.
The road to western Kentucky was different. The Hilltoppers are 8-4, but anyone who saw this team in September would be shocked to learn they are playing for a conference title a few months later. They started Season 1-4 with back-to-back losses to the Army, Indiana, Michigan State and, yes, UTSA. This loss at UTSA was the last of the year for WKU, as it started the weekend on a seven-game winning streak, winning the East Division last week beating Marshall 53-21 on the road.
Western Kentucky also has the most experience in the Conference USA Championship game. This will be the team’s third appearance in the title match, and they’ve won both of their previous appearances.
UTSA vs. Western Kentucky: what you need to know
It’s an exciting revenge: These teams met earlier this season in a 52-46 UTSA victory in Bowling Green, Ky. The Roadrunners improved to 6-0 at the time, while WKU fell to 1-4. It was an incredible game, however, and a sign of what was to come for the Hilltoppers. The teams not only combined 98 points that day, but also 1,234 attacking yards and four turnovers in a crazy back-and-forth affair.
Harris finished with 400 total yards and six passing touchdowns while Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe threw for 523 yards. Unfortunately for Zappe, his interception inside the red zone in the closing seconds of the game was decisive.
Zappe has had an incredible season: While it’s hard to imagine a Western Kentucky quarterback getting much interest from Heisman, Zappe has a case. His 414 passing yards per game lead the nation and his 52 touchdown passes are 12 more than anyone (Pitt’s Kenny Pickett and Alabama’s Bryce Young have 40). Zappe also ranks seventh nationally for passing efficiency, and he’s been the driving force behind the Hilltoppers’ offense and the team’s seven-game winning streak.
UTSA has experienced a meteoric rise: It was not that long ago that this program did not exist. UTSA is not an FCS school with a long history that has decided to move on to FBS level. It’s a program that’s been around for 11 seasons and spent a year at FCS level before joining FBS and WAC. He moved to Conference USA for the 2013 season and he’s been building steadily since.
Larry Coker initially established a great foundation for the program, but he took a step back through Frank Wilson’s four seasons in charge, going 19-29 from 2016-19. Then Jeff Traylor took over for the 2020 season, led the Roadrunners to a bowl game and now has them playing for a Year 2 conference title. And that’s not the last step! The Roadrunners will no longer be at Conference USA, as they will soon be moving to the American Athletic Conference. All in just over a decade.
How to watch UTSA vs. Western Kentucky live
Dated: Friday December 3 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Site: Alamodome – San Antonio, Texas
TV: CBS Sports Network | Direct: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports app (free)
UTSA vs Western Kentucky prediction, pick
Featured Game | UTSA Roadrunners vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
I have to be honest, this one hurts a bit. I enjoyed following this team of Roadrunners throughout the year, and before the start of the season I made a forward bet on them to win the USA Conference. But as this game draws near, I’m not convinced that they are going to win. Western Kentucky has been the better team over the past month and nearly eliminated the Roadrunners earlier this season. Plus, while UTSA won the game, if you delve into the box score, there’s a strong argument that the Hilltoppers were the better team that day; they just ended up on the wrong end of the score. This game will be different as it takes place at the Alamodome, but it’s difficult to go against this West Kentucky attack with the way the UTSA defense has been performing. I would also consider a game on the top. Prediction: Western Kentucky (-1.5)
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