This year, the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl will feature two of the best Group of Five teams in the country. San Diego State had a disappointing end to the season with a 46-13 loss to Utah State in the Mountain West championship as their team was without 20 players due to COVID-19. UTSA, meanwhile, beat Western Kentucky to win the Conference USA championship to cap off the team’s first double-digit win season since its inception in 2012. In the last Frisco Bowl matchup, we saw Kent State defeat Utah State 51-41 in 2019. The year prior, San Diego State played in this game and lost 27-0 to Ohio. The Aztecs will have something to prove with the opportunity to put that loss behind them while UTSA seeks its first bowl win in program history.
UTSA Roadrunners Vs. San Diego State Aztecs Betting Odds
UTSA vs San Diego State Betting Picks Video
UTSA Roadrunners Betting Odds
Second-year head coach Jeff Traylor has done an excellent job of leading UTSA to its best football season ever in its young history, and the Roadrunners have a great chance to win their first-ever bowl game. On its way to its first-ever AP poll ranking, UTSA came through with impressive wins over in-conference teams. By the end of the year, it was apparent they were the best C-USA team as the Roadrunners held off a 41-point onslaught from Western Kentucky in the conference championship game.
The big news for UTSA heading into this game is the absence of the team’s running back, Sincere McCormick, who was a massive part of the team’s record-breaking season with 299 carries for 1,479 yards and 15 touchdowns. On Wednesday, McCormick announced his decision to opt out of the bowl game and prepare for the NFL draft. In the absence of McCormick, Brenden Brady, who has been with the team for four years but has never been a starter, will be heavily relied upon on the ground.
Frank Harris has had an impressive season at quarterback with 2,906 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and just five interceptions, along with 105 carries for 565 yards and six touchdowns. Zakhari Franklin was the team’s leading receiver during the regular season with 73 catches for 938 yards and 11 touchdowns. Franklin made the All C-USA First Team while Harris was named to the Second Team. The passing game for the Roadrunners will be even more critical without McCormick in the lineup.
UTSA has one of the best run defenses in the country, allowing just 1,450 rushing yards during the regular season, the 14th-fewest, and 3.23 yards per carry, the eleventh-fewest. Clarence Hicks led the defense with a whopping 16 tackles for a loss and ten sacks. Rashad Wisdom is the other big name to look out for – he led the team with 86 tackles at safety and made the All C-USA First Team.
San Diego State Aztecs Betting Odds
Brady Hoke has quickly impacted this San Diego State program with an 11-2 record in his second season as head coach, and the Aztecs were the best team in the Mountain West for long stretches. San Diego State had some incredibly impressive wins this season, including an overtime win over Utah, the eventual Pac-12 champions. If a slew of COVID-19 cases didn’t wreck the Aztecs, they likely would have won the Mountain West championship.
San Diego State’s offense will not amaze you, and they scored just 26.5 points per game, ranking just 80th in the country. Greg Bell was the leading rusher with 221 carries for 997 yards and eight touchdowns, while no receiver had more than Jesse Matthew’s 482 yards. Lucas Johnson threw for just nine touchdowns in 11 games. However, they can keep defenses off balance and do enough to move the ball to aid their elite defense and special teams.
This season, Matt Araiza was arguably the Aztecs’ best player as the punter was a unanimous All-American, just the second in team history, and won the Ray Guy award for the best punter in the country. His 76 punts traveled 3,904 yards – that’s a 51.4 yards per punt clip, the best in FBS history. In what I expect to be a lower-scoring game, special teams and field position will be massively important, and Araiza gives the Aztecs a huge advantage.
San Diego State has one of the best defenses in the country as they allowed just 19.5 points per game, the 17th-fewest in the country. They were incredibly dominant against the run as they allowed just 1,007 rushing yards, the second-fewest in the country. Cameron Thomas, who led the team with 68 tackles, 20.5 for a loss, and 10.5 sacks, was named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and has been a First-Team All-Mountain West nomination in each of the past three seasons.
UTSA Roadrunners Vs. San Diego State Aztecs Picks & Prediction
- Roadrunners are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games against a team with a winning record
- Aztecs are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog
- Over is 5-1 in the Roadrunners’ last 6 games overall
- Under is 9-4 in the Aztecs’ last 13 non-conference games
If you’re looking for a high-scoring shootout, this probably isn’t the game for you. The Aztecs play a crushing run-heavy style with some of the best defense and special teams in the country. It’s been a phenomenal, record-breaking, feel-good season for UTSA, but winning this game is going to be a tough ask for them. Without Sincere McCormick, their best offensive player, facing one of the top run defenses in the country will be very problematic, and Frank Harris will need to play his most efficient game of the season. Ultimately, I believe San Diego State will do enough on offense to maintain control of the football, and Matt Araiza, the best punter in the country, could win a rare bowl game MVP for the punter position in this game.
My pick: San Diego State wins 23-17, San Diego State covers, under 49.5 points