Through 59 minutes, the Roadrunners of UTSA had one of the most dangerous teams in one of college football's best conferences on major upset alert. A disastrous interception from Tucker Carter by Arizona's Jared Tevis ended it, but the impact of the preceding events were obvious. The home fans in the Alamodome immediately began chanting their school's name.
Arizona escapes San Antonio with a 2-0 record, weathering one of college football's most experienced rosters (the paradox is that though UTSA is a new program, the bulk of its key players arrived at the same time) and a noisy road environment. That's a quality win for the young Wildcats, and you probably never thought you'd say that about the UTSA Roadrunners. In part because you didn't realize until approximately 2012 that they existed.
Three things we learned
1. The Roadrunners could win Conference USA in Year 4. And this bears repeating over and over: that's not Year 4 in Conference USA. That's not even Year 4 in FBS. This is the fourth year of existence for the football program at the University of Texas-San Antonio. It turned three years old this month.
The cohesion and experience enjoyed by the program's original core of players is well-documented, and it's clear on the field. They keep their quarterback clean, they don't give up big plays (other than the 85-yard opener by Cayleb Jones), and they hit damn hard.
The team's option-friendly offense is a headache to defend, stringing together modest, double-digit gains and producing three touchdown drives of eight plays or more on the night. It involves a slew of those well-seasoned Roadrunners, with 12 of them touching the ball on offense, including several of them getting both carries and catches. Tight end David Morgan II, all 6'4 of him, looked just about uncoverable, finishing with 76 yards.
With conference favorite Marshall looking ehhh in Week 1 against one of the country's worst teams, Miami (Ohio), we can pencil UTSA into the C-USA title mix.
2. Arizona doesn't miss Ka'Deem Carey much. The Wildcats lost maybe the best running back in the country. And after Terris Jones-Grigsby led the way against UNLV last week with 124 yards, freshman Nick Wilson took over with 174 Thursday night. A fully functioning Rich Rodriguez team is not going to need to worry about its offense, and it definitely won't worry about its running game. The box shows up checked.
3. Arizona's quarterback battle is ... probably not over. The starting QB decision for the Wildcats came down to the final days of preseason camp, with redshirt freshman Anu Solomon emerging out of a total logjam. While he looked capable against UNLV while throwing for 425 yards and four touchdowns, he was streaky at best against the Roadrunners, finishing one completion above 50 percent on 32 throws.
While games against Nevada and Cal, plus a bye week, allow for some time to straighten out Arizona's issues in the passing game and elsewhere, that's about it. Revenge-minded Oregon and revamped USC follow on the other side of that break.