The undefeated University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners hit the road for their second Conference USA game of the season, traveling to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to face Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have one of the nation’s highest-scoring offenses, a pass-happy attack that averages 39 points a game.
UTSA Roadrunners (5-0) at Western Kentucky (1-3):
Location: Houchens-Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CDT
How to watch: Televised on Stadium and KMYS/CW 35
Western Kentucky is coming off a 48-31 road loss to Michigan State, then ranked 17th. Quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 46 of 64 passes for 488 yards and three touchdowns in the defeat.
UTSA stayed undefeated after holding off winless UNLV. Quarterback Frank Harris threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns on 24 of 30 attempts, and Sincere McCormick rushed 29 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. The Roadrunners played without top receiver Zakhari Franklin, who was injured.
What they’re saying:
UTSA Head Coach Jeff Traylor: Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe is “the best quarterback we’ve played against. Bailey’s really good — he’s from Victoria. He can really throw it. … [Western Kentucky is] the best offense we’ve gone against — they will give our defense all they can handle Saturday.”
Western Kentucky Head Coach Tyson Helton: UTSA has “got a big, physical offensive line. [Sincere] McCormick’s a great running back. They want to be able to run the football, make you commit to the run. The quarterback’s a very good athlete. … It really makes it hard on defense. They’ve got a lot of weapons. We’ve played some good opponents, so hopefully that’ll help us get ready for UTSA.”
UTSA ranks fifth in the FBS in rushing defense, holding opponents to a league best 71.2 yards per game on the ground. But that might not matter against a Western Kentucky team that relies heavily on its passing game. The Roadrunners have allowed opponents an average of 227 passing yards per game. UTSA’s 5-0 record matches the 2012 team for the best start in school history.
Western Kentucky is a pass-heavy offense that leads the FBS in passing yards per game with 441.5 yards and ranks ninth in total yards per game with 520.5. The Hilltoppers’ three losses have come in games in which they’ve scored no fewer than 31 points.
Players to watch:
UTSA hopes to have leading receiver Zakhari Franklin back after he missed last week’s game against UNLV with an injury. Franklin ranks 38th in the FBS in reception yards with 397 on 29 catches. Defensive lineman Lorenzo Dantzler leads all FBS players with three fumble recoveries this season.
Leading the WKU offense is quarterback Bailey Zappe, who ranks fifth in the FBS in both passing yards (1,712) and touchdowns (16). His 72.7% completion percentage also is fifth-best in the nation. Zappe’s favorite target is wide receiver Jerreth Sterns, who ranks sixth in receiving yards with 546, with five touchdowns on 40 catches.