It’s a Week seven Sun Belt Conference match-up when the UTSA Roadrunners come to Apogee Stadium to play the North Texas Mean Green this weekend. The inner-conference battle is set to start on Saturday, October 14th at 7:00 p.m. EST. ESPN3.com will be hosting the football game for your Saturday evening entertainment. Line-setters have the Roadrunners as a slim -2.5 point road favorite and the game’s total rests at 57.
Last week, the UTSA Roadrunners were upset by conference foe Southern Miss at home, 31-29. the setback was the first of the season for UTSA and now they must go on the road to play a surging North Texas squad that has racked up two straight wins. In fact, their last victory was over the same Golden Eagles team that defeated them last week.
The North Texas Mean Green are starting to find some footing as the 2017 college football seasons continues to roll along. They have found themselves on the winning end of three games this year, including a defeat of conference competitors Southern Mississippi 43-28 last week on the road. Furthermore, their two losses have come at the hand of some pretty stout ballclubs. First, they lost on the road to the SMU Mustangs in a shoot-out. Lastly, they were beaten by the BIG-10’s Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
Now, the Mean Green leads the Conference-USA West at 2-0. Meanwhile, the Roadrunners sit at 0-1 with their loss to the Golden Eagles last weekend. Last season, UTSA defeated North Texas conquered North Texas, 31-17 at home.
UTSA Roadrunners (3-1)
It may have taken a 21 unanswered point comeback to beat the Roadrunners last week, but the Southern Miss Golden Eagles will take it. UTSA never really had an answer for the onslaught but had a chance to even things up in the last minute. Unfortunately, that attempt fell short and now they need to rebound on the road against North Texas.
Last time out, quarterback Dillon Sturm performed well. The senior passer connected on 27 of 43 attempts for 367 yards with three scores and one pick. With those numbers, it’s hard to put the blame on him for the untimely loss at home. Altogether, Sturm has been proficient. Number 14 has passed for just over 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns and only a single interception. The steady signal-caller also moves around well, collecting another 198 yards on the ground with a score.
Handling the running duties for the Roadrunners is tailback Jalen Rhodes. He is the team’s leading rusher with 366 yards and 6.2 average yards per run. He also leads the backfield with three trips to the promised land in 2017. Dillon Sturm is the club’s second-leading rusher, so there is some room for improvement in this category.
Three receivers share the pass-catching responsibilities for UTSA. Combined, they have brought in 44 passes for just under 600 yards and six touchdown grabs. All three have just about 15 catches and all three have found themselves in the end zone this season.
The secret to the Roadrunners’ success for this year’s campaign has been the play of their defense. Opposing schools have found very little to build upon when trying to toss the ball down the field against UTSA. As of now, their secondary sits 5th in the nation, only allowing 143 yards per game. The front seven is also doing their part to keep teams at a manageable score. They sit 34t in the nation, surrendering 126 yards per game on the ground.
North Texas Mean Green (3-2)
The Mean Green was invited to the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2016, despite having a 5-7 record on the season. They proved to the powers that be that they chose right by giving Army all they could handle in a 38-31 loss. Nevertheless, that game was a victory for North Texas after winning only one contest the year before.
Apparently, they are picking right up where they left off with second-year quarterback Mason Fine at the controls. In 2017, Fine has been just that, fine. The sophomore has connected on 62.6 percent of his throws for 1,1442 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Unlike his counterpart, Fine is strictly a pocket-passer and isn’t a real threat to challenge defenses with his feet.
Even with the great play of the Mean Green’s quarterback, running back Jeffery Wilson has been North Texas’ best player. The elusive back has darted his way for 666 yards on 93 carries and a team-high nine trips to pay-dirt. Tailback Nic Smith spells the talented running back, scampering 39 times for almost 200 yards and two more scores.
Mason Fine likes to distribute the pigskin to a lot of different wideouts when the Mean Green gameplan for opposing secondaries. He has connected with five different receivers who all have at least 10 receptions and four have found the end zone. Jaylon Guyton seems to be open the most, catching 24 balls for 444 yards and five touchdowns. All three of those stats are team-highs for North Texas’ pass-catching division.
The North Texas Mean Green defense still needs a lot of work as they continue to allow schools to gash them for considerable yardage. Case in point, in their victory over Southern Miss, they allowed the Golden Eagles to throw for almost 280 yards and run for almost 150. Yes, their offense had enough firepower to outscore them but that won’t always be the case as they dip deeper into their conference schedule. Overall, North Texas is ranked 107th in the country, giving up 34 points per match.
Last year, the UTSA Roadrunners beat the North Texas Mean Green by two touchdowns. The good news for North Texas is the offense turned the ball over four times in that affair and are protecting the football much better in 2017. They also are coming into this game hot winning their last two and scoring a lot of points along the way. That leads me straight into my pick for this football game.
The Mean Green offense has been very productive this year and is now going to face a sturdy UTSA defense who is solid across the board. Even still, they are at home and should find ways with their balanced attack to score their fair share of points. Similarly, the Roadrunners offense is certainly not intimidated by the lowly North Texas defense either. Why should they be? Yes, UTSA doesn’t sport a prolific offense but they are experienced and will find ways to move the ball successfully in all for quarters.
For these reasons, the bet to make in this contest is the game’s over 57. Mason Fine, Jeffery Wilson, and Dillon Sturm will be just fine this Saturday. As for the spread in this Conference-USA battle, well I do believe that the Roadrunners are the better team but I don’t like the road game here. They certainly need to prove to their fans they can go on the road and win big conference games but I’m not suggesting betting on it. #moneytreesgrow @EriktheHun
The Roadrunners are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
The Roadrunners are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
The Over is 9-4 in the Roadrunners last 13 conference games.
The Mean Green are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 home games.
The Mean Green are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
The Over is 6-1 in the Mean Green last 7 games overall.
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