UTSA (0-0) at Houston (0-0), Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET (FS1)
Line: Houston by 1 ½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Houston leads 2-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
UTSA and Houston meet in their opener for a second straight year after Houston escaped with a 37-35 triple overtime win in the Alamodome last season. Both teams moved to new conferences this year, with the Cougars going from the American Athletic Conference to the Big 12 and the Roadrunners transitioning to the American from Conference USA. The Cougars look to start the season strong against UTSA prior to a visit to Rice next week before opening Big 12 play against No. 17 TCU.
Houston passing attack vs. UTSA secondary. Coach Dana Holgorsen has long been known for his prolific passing game and the Cougars enter the season after ranking seventh in the nation by averaging 314 yards passing per game in 2022. The Roadrunners struggled against the pass last year, ranking 89th in the country by giving up 244.5 yards passing a game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UTSA: RB Kevorian Barnes. The 5-foot-9, 220-pound Barnes returns after a breakout 2022 season where he ran for 851 yards and averaged 6.3 yards a carry. Barnes, who has six rushing touchdowns, added 10 receptions for 113 yards. He is in a formidiable backfield with UTSA QB Frank Harris, who returns after throwing for a career-high 4,063 yards with 32 touchdowns last season.
Houston: QB Donovan Smith. He will make his debut for the Cougars after beating Lucas Coley for the job in camp following a transfer from Texas Tech. Smith came to Houston after appearing in 21 games for the Red Raiders in the past two seasons. The 6-5 Smith threw for 1,505 yards and 12 touchdowns last season after throwing for 1,181 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021.
FACTS & FIGURES
Houston is 11-4 in season openers since 2008. … UTSA is 9-3 all-time in season openers. … The Cougars have scored in 283 consecutive games. … Houston WR Matthew Golden had 38 receptions for 584 yards last season and his seven receiving touchdowns ranked second in the nation among true freshmen. … The Roadrunners have 26 players on their roster from the Houston area. … UTSA is 30-10 under coach Jeff Traylor, including 23-5 in the last two seasons.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll