Jeff Traylor’s UTSA Roadrunners scored a touchdown on a grinding drive in Austin. They followed the score up with a surprise onside kick, the kind of things well-prepared underdogs do when they see the opportunity. The follow up play was a running-back pass to the squad’s best wideout. Result: touchdown UTSA. The broadcast showed the Runner fans in attendance getting crazy, contrasted by the silent, concerned faces of the Texas faithful.
I was the kind of recipe for an upset. For Texas (the state) teams, playing the University of Texas is a chance for the spotlight, and also a chance to steal it for a while. For as long as I can remember – since the Ricky Williams era in the late 1990s, Texas has been a juggernaut in the cultural landscape. Jeff Traylor mentioned it in the lead up. He noted that no one on UTSA chose SA over Austin. No one expects a win in Austin to change that fact going forward, but the idea is to not make choosing a UTSA seem like such a step down. That’s the nature of the game.
UTSA has made big moves in the last 20 months or so. Hiring Traylor raised their profile among Texas High School coaches, winning 11 in a row raised the profile slightly among college-football obsessives, and getting a shot at Texas in the early non-conference season opened the possibility of a breakthrough. Beating a down Baylor a couple of years ago does not move anyone. Texas, despite not having had the hardware of the squad in Waco for the last decade, is still TEXAS.
The Longhorns stomped away all hope fairly quickly. The talent level in the UT backfield is elite, and that is rare. The good UTSA squad looked three steps too slow, and Bijan Robinson walked through the defending CUSA champs again and again. There was a brief moment of luck, where UTSA was saved by a refs call and the game was not put away just yet. UT pulled away and won 41-20.