No. 15 UTSA (11-1, 7-1 Conference USA) vs. Western Kentucky (8-4, 7-1), Friday at 7 p.m. EST (CBS Sports Network).
Line: Western Kentucky by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Tied 1-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
UTSA is seeking the first Conference USA title in school history while Western Kentucky is seeking its first since winning back-to-back titles beginning in 2015. Both teams are bowl eligible.
The Hilltoppers rely heavily on passing but had one of their best rushing performances against the Roadrunners in their initial meeting. Noah Whittington led Western Kentucky with 466 yards rushing this season and Adam Cofield added 383 yards with both picking up about 15% of that against UTSA. UTSA is coming off two of its worst defensive outings against the run. North Texas rushed for 340 yards and six touchdowns on Nov. 27 and UAB had 220 yards rushing and two touchdowns on Nov. 20.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UTSA: QB Frank Harris was available, but coach Jeff Traylor opted to sit him in the second half last week at North Texas. Harris completed 7-of-14 passes for 59 yards and no touchdowns as the Roadrunners fell behind 31-13 at the half and lost 45-23. Traylor had this week’s championship game in mind when he sat Harris. Harris responded to his worst outing of the season against Southern Miss with a game-winning drive against UAB. How will respond to the team’s first loss?
Western Kentucky: QB Bailey Zappe has passed for 4,968 yards and 52 touchdowns in his first season at Western Kentucky after transferring from Houston Baptist. The graduate senior can enhance his NFL Draft stock with a solid performance in a critical game. Zappe has thrown for 400 yards in six games this season and passed for at least five touchdowns in five games, including passing for 525 yards and five touchdowns against UTSA in a 52-46 loss Oct. 9. Zappe completed 406 of 580 passes and had nine interceptions, including one against the Roadrunners.
FACTS & FIGURES
UTSA has won a school-record nine straight home games, including all six at the Alamodome this season. … Harris and running back Sincere McCormick are two of 16 semifinalists for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which recognizes the top offensive player in college football with ties to Texas. McCormick was also a semifinalist last season. … Western Kentucky tight end Joshua Simon is out with an injury, but the Hilltoppers are otherwise healthy. … UTSA’s defense has scored five touchdowns this season, three on interception returns and two on fumble recoveries.
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