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ASU Football Opponent Primer: UTSA Roadrunners

A foe that can’t be overlooked

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2018 Schedule

UTSA (Sept. 1)

Michigan State (Sept. 8)

At San Diego State (Sept. 15)

At Washington (Sept. 22)

Oregon State (Sept. 29)

At Colorado (Oct. 6)

Stanford (Oct. 18)

At USC (Oct. 27)

Utah (Nov. 3)

UCLA (Nov. 10)

At Oregon (Nov. 17)

At Arizona (Nov. 24)

UTSA’s 2017 Season

The Roadrunners in 2017 only played 11 games due to their opening game against Houston cancelled due to the impacts of Hurricane Harvey last year. Despite having one less game, they still became eligible for a bowl with six wins. With a victory over Baylor, and going 3-5 in Conference USA with wins over Rice, UTEP and Marshall, it looked as UTSA were headed for the postseason. However, they did not receive a bid.

Key Returners

RB Jalen RhodesRhodes led the Roadrunners in rushing last season with 659 yards, which might not seem like much. Although, the top three ball carriers for UTSA last season all had between 120 to 135 rushes, making it hard to gain a lot of yards with split duties. The number that stands out more is Rhodes averaged nearly five yards per carry in 2017.

LB Josiah Tauaefa — There may be questions to why Tauaefa’s name is on here by looking at his stats from last season. Well, he was hurt last year. In his sophomore season in 2016, he dominated for the Roadrunner defense. He led the team in tackles with 115, and added six sacks. If Tauafa returns to that form he could be an issue.

Biggest Losses

DE Marcus Davenport — The New Orleans Saints first round pick, leaves the Roadrunners after having an eight and half sack season along with 17.5 tackles for a loss, leading the team in both categories. Davenport also finished second on the team in tackles. Losing the most touted player in program history hurts a very young team.

QB Dalton Strum — Strum played in over 30 games for the Roadrunners the past three season. Throwing 48 touchdowns over those three years. He also gave UTSA 545 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. The Roadrunners put their faith in Bryce Rivers to carry the load left behind by Strum.

Reasons why ASU Could Win

This should be the closest thing to a lock of a win the Sun Devils have all season. The Roadrunners didn’t have a winning record in a poor Conference USA last season. They now also have to replace a veteran quarterback and a pass-rusher that is now a premier rookie in the NFL. Arizona State is the more talented team here, and the school hasn’t lost their home opener since 1998. Yes, of course most of those opponents can be considered ‘cupcake’ teams down that stretch, but it’s quite the streak in the desert.

Reasons why ASU Could Loss

Throwback to the last time ASU faced UTSA in 2016. The Sun Devils needed to score 20 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes in the Alamodome to put out a victory. The Roadrunners are the easiest team the Sun Devils will play on their very difficult schedule. Even with the talent, conditions and predictions all favoring ASU, the game still has to be played. If the Sun Devils don’t play to what they’re capable there could be a repeat of 2016 or even the scare New Mexico State gave the fans in Tempe last season in the season opener.