Facing a smaller-conference team in just its fourth season as a program should be an easy mark for Arizona, especially since the Wildcats rolled in the first meeting between the teams last season.
But that’s not how they’re looking at Texas-San Antonio.
Not with all those seniors the Roadrunners have. Not when they’re led by a coach who has a national championship on his resume. And not certainly after watching what they - mainly their defensive line - did against Houston last week.
“I told our team right after the (first) game that we’re going to have a tougher opponent on the road,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of respect for them in how hard they play.”
Arizona beat UTSA 38-13 in Tucson last season.
The rematch may not be so easy.
UTSA has one of the most experienced rosters in college football, with 21 returning starters and more seniors (37) than most programs have in two seasons.
The Roadrunners play hard and physical under coach Larry Coker, who won a national title at Miami. Their defense shut down Houston’s prolific offense in a 27-7 win last week, triggered by a big, hard-nosed group of defensive linemen who have a knack for getting to the quarterback.
“They are as good as anybody we’ve seen on film,” Rodriguez said.
Coker and the Roadrunners are saying the same things after watching Arizona’s offense.
After a stuttering start, the Wildcats turned their opener against UNLV into a laugher, rolling up a school-record 787 yards in a 58-13 win over the Rebels.
“I was really disappointed when I saw them on tape, how good they are,” Coker said with a laugh. “I was hoping they wouldn’t look that good, but they’re pretty good.”
It should be a good matchup all around.
Here are a few more things to look for when Arizona meets UTSA at the Alamodome on Thursday night: