The Cougars get their first taste of life as a member of the Big 12 when they open their season in the Week 1 UTSA at Houston betting matchup. UH is making the move from the AAC and join the Big 12 along with UCF, Cincinnati, and BYU.
Texas-San Antonio also begins life in a new conference, taking one of the spots vacated by Houston in becoming a member of the AAC. The Roadrunners have only been in the FBS since 2013, but they’ve molded into a very successful program as evidenced by going 23-5 the last two seasons.
Why UTSA Has Value in Week 1
Not many players in college football have taken as many reps as Roadrunners QB Frank Harris who enters his fourth year as a starter. Harris has thrown 59 TDs the last two seasons as UTSA has gone 12-2 in 2021 and 11-3 last year. Harris can move a bit as well, gaining 500+ yards rushing in each of the last three years while adding 24 scores on the ground over that span.
Harris has the experience overall, but also against Houston as the Cougars won last year’s meeting 37-35 in 3OT. Harris had a very solid game in last year’s battle though, throwing for 337 yards and 3 TDs while adding another 63 and a score on the ground.
The Cougars were -3.5 road favorites in last year’s contest, but they’ll be missing two huge weapons from that game in the 2023 meeting. QB Clayton Tune (3,845 yards, 37 TDs) and WR Nathaniel “Tank” Dell (1,345 yards, 15 TDs) are both off to the NFL. Can the Roadrunners take advantage of some inevitable growing pains for the Houston offense in this matchup?
Why Houston Has Value in Week 1
The chemistry between Tune and Dell will be missed in the Week 1 UTSA at Houston betting matchup, but Dana Holgorsen is a very experienced coach who thinks he has a solid QB replacement in Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith. Smith is a big guy (6’5, 230) who has played in 23 games over the last two seasons.
UTSA had the #9 overall and the #12 passing offense in the country last season, but they’ll have some loss to deal with as well as Zakhari Franklin (1,100 yards, 14 TDs) transferred to Ole Miss. The Roadrunners do bring back their #2 and #3 receivers from a season ago however.
The Cougars will need to find an answer for Harris, but they did do a solid job of holding UTSA to 104 rush yards in last year’s game. The Cougars also committed 11 penalties in that meeting, so maybe they’ll play a bit cleaner back at home.
Free Week 1 UTSA at Houston Betting Pick
It’s hard to overlook the advantage that comes with the Roadrunners having a 4th year starter at QB in Harris. WR De’Corian Clark is questionable with a leg injury, but Josh Cephus is ready to have a breakout campaign as a pass catcher.
Houston was a top 15 scoring offense last season (37.2 ppg) but that’s going to take a hit with the loss of Tune and Dell. Smith may come into his own in this system eventually, but there’s a lot of pressure on the Texas Tech transfer in week one.
Free Pick: UTSA PK