This week is the first of three straight games for UTSA against bird mascots. The Golden Eagles of Southern Miss come to town trying to stop the Roadrunners fast start
The Conference USA schedule makers must have a sense of humor. Starting this week the Roadrunners open conference with three straight games against opponents with bird mascots.
On Saturday evening the Southern Miss Golden Eagles will fly into San Antonio to take on the Roadrunners. A year ago the Eagles entered the game 4-1 but got shot down by the Roadrunners, 55-32. This year Southern Miss will enter the game coming off a 43-28 loss to North Texas last weekend.
"They're going to come in here with their hair on fire," Roadrunner wide receiver Josh Stewart said. "They'll be ready to play but so will we. We just have to come out and play hard."
The Eagles enter the game Saturday averaging 447.5 yards of offense. For the most part they have tried to air it out, averaging 277.2 yards passing to 170.2 yards rushing. It will be a good test for the Roadrunner defense that has allowed opposing offenses an average of 207 yards per game this season. A week ago the Eagles had 270 yards passing and 145 yards rushing against North Texas.
On offense for the Eagles, Ito Smith has rushed for 435 yards and four touchdowns and added 156 yards receiving. Southern Miss quarterback Kwadra Griggs has completed 66 of his 123 attempts for 951 yards and eight touchdowns. Griggs spreads it around but his favorite touchdown partners are Korey Robertson (4) and Allenzae Staggers (3).
The Southern Miss defense has allowed their opponents an average of 316 yards per game. The Eagles pass defense is holding opponents to an average of 183 yards per game and the rush defense is even stingier, allowing only 133 yards per game.
"I think Southern Miss is the best team that we've seen so far to be honest," Roadrunner Head Coach Frank Wilson said. "We will have our hands full with them."
UTSA counters the Eagles with an offense that has averaged 482 yards per game, helped mostly by the last game against Texas State when the Alamo Birds put up 569 yards of offense against their rivals.
A key aspect on Saturday will be who can make fewer mistakes and when mistakes are made they don't lead to points. Both UTSA and Southern Miss are coming into this game hungry for a win. For one its a conference opener and for the other its a chance to shake up the division.
There is much on the line for both teams. For Southern Miss an 0-2 start to conference would put their chances at the division closer to the unlikely side of the spectrum. For UTSA a loss also puts a damper on their hopes of winning the division but a win would add to a start the folks in San Antonio haven't seen since 2012.
The fact that the game is in the Alamodome and UTSA has had two weeks to prepare for Southern Miss will help make the difference in the score. It will be one of the best conference games this month.
Prediction: UTSA 38 Southern Miss 24