INSIDE THE GAME
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
A UL win would give the program its seventh bowl victory and would also be UL’s first back-to-back double-digit win seasons in school history. A UTSA win would be the first bowl victory in school history.
UL defensive line vs. UTSA offensive line – The Roadrunners rely heavily on running back Sincere McCormick and the nation’s 23rd rushing offense at 214.7 yards per game, so controlling the line of scrimmage will be critical.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
CAJUNS: UL defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill has been surging late in the season and now has 42 tackles – third on UL’s defense overall – along with five stops behind the line, four sacks, two QB hurries and two fumble recoveries.
UTSA: Sophomore RB Sincere McCormick is the nation’s second-leading rusher with 1,345 yards and 11 scores on 226 carries. He also has 18 receptions for 122 yards. In his last game, McCormick rushed for 251 yards against North Texas.
FACTS & FIGURES
This is the first meeting between the two schools … UL’s 9-1 start is the best 10-game start in program history … Only Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Appalachian State have 20 or more wins over the past two seasons … UL’s defense has forced at least two turnovers in nine games this season … Levi Lewis only needs 102 passing yards to surpass Jerry Babb into No. 3 on the school’s all-time passing list behind Jake Delhomme and Terrance Broadway … Bralen Trahan’s four interceptions are the most by a UL defender since Sean Thomas in 2013 … UTSA safety Rashad Wisdom has four interceptions as well and he’s also the team’s leading tackler with 82 … UTSA can tie the school record for wins (8 in 2012) with a win … Teams have two familiar opponents – UL beat Texas State 44-34, while UTSA won 51-48 in 2 OTs; UL beat UAB 24-20, while UTSA lost 21-13 … This is UTSA’s first game on national TV … UTSA quarterback Frank Harris is another dual-threat with 1,422 yards passing with 10 TDs and 437 rushing yards with eight scores … 87 Roadrunners are from Texas, while 70 of UL’s roster is players from Louisiana … UTSA has 8 players from Louisiana, while UL has 24 from Texas.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
17 – During the course of the season, 17 Roadrunners made their first collegiate start.
916 – UL values return yards (745 on kickoffs, 171 on punts), compared to 491 kickoffs and 68 punts for UTSA.
8 – Eight of UTSA’s 11 games were within a TD in the fourth quarter, while six of UL’s 10 games were one-score games in the final period.
1 – Aggressive defenses
The Cajuns are tied for sixth nationally in turnover margin at plus-9, while the Roadrunners are tied for 11th at plus-8.
2 – Special teams demons
UTSA is strong at kicker with Hunter Duplessis 11th nationally with 16 field goals in 18 tries, while punter Lucas Dean is fourth with a 46.3-yard average.
3 – Noble name team
UTSA’s running back is Sincere McCormick, and the safety tandem of Rashad Wisdom and Kelechi Nwachuku. Also, McCormick began a dad during the season and his daughter’s name is Legacy Love Precious McCormick.
4 – Impatient teams
UL hasn’t played since Dec. 4 after getting the Sun Belt title game canceled. UTSA hasn’t played since Nov. 28 after getting the Café Frisco Bowl vs. SMU canceled last weekend as well.
UTSA (7-4, 5-2)
Sept. 12 At Texas State, W 51-48
Sept. 19 Stephen F. Austin, W 24-10
Sept. 25 Middle Tennessee, W 37-35
Oct. 3 At UAB, L 21-13
Oct. 10 At BYU, L 27-20
Oct. 17 Army, L 28-16
Oct. 24 Louisiana Tech, W 27-26
Oct. 31 At Florida Atlantic, L 24-6
Nov. 14 UTEP, W 52-14
Nov. 21 At Southern Miss, W 23-20
Nov. 28 North Texas, W 49-17
Dec. 26 Louisiana, 2:30 p.m.
UL (9-1, 7-1)
Sept. 12 At Iowa State, W 31-14
Sept. 19 At Georgia State, W 34-31 (OT)
Sept. 26 Georgia Southern, W 20-18
Oct. 14 Coastal Carolina, L 30-27
Oct. 23 At UAB, W 24-20
Oct. 31 At Texas State, W 44-34
Nov. 7 Arkansas State, W 27-20
Nov. 14 South Alabama, W 38-10
Nov. 21 Central Arkansas, ccd.
Nov. 28 At ULM, W 70-20
Dec. 4, At Appalachian State, W 24-21
Dec. 19, At Coastal Carolina, TBA
THE ADVOCATE SAYS …
UL 37, UTSA 20
It just seems like the Roadrunners are meeting the wrong team at the wrong time. UTSA is certainly a capable team with the nation’s second-leading rusher in Sincere McCormick and a dual-threat quarterback in Frank Harris. But the Cajuns’ front seven played well down the stretch. Despite McCormick, neither team possessed the ball more than their opponents for the season. Both teams are among the nation’s best in turnover margin, and it appears UL might have met its match in the kicking game. It just seems like the Cajuns will be on a mission against an unseasoned bowl team after the frustration of having the Sun Belt Conference championship game suddenly canceled.