Sept. 7 NCAA Football Picks and Preview — UTSA (1-0) at Baylor (1-0)

(Charlie Brewer photo courtesy Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Saturday, Sept. 7, McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas, 4 p.m. EDT.

Coming off a solid season-opening victory, Charlie Brewer and Baylor look to complete their three-year series against UTSA by winning the final two games as they square off in the rubber match Saturday.

Roadrunners taking step up in competition after season-opening victory

UTSA kicked off its season with a 35-7 victory over FCS foe and intracity rival Incarnate Word last Saturday, with dual-threat quarterback Frank Harris accounting for 329 total yards and three touchdowns, all coming through the air, in his first collegiate start.

Harris, who completed 28 of 36 passes, had two of his scoring tosses in the second half when the Roadrunners pulled away and held the Cardinals scoreless. It was his first game action of any type since his senior year of high school in 2016, and making a triumphant debut in his hometown made the performance all the sweeter.

“I thought it was a beautiful thing to see a young man who was born and raised in this city, to go through a spirit walk and little league coach, high school coach, police, beat reporters from local newspaper, radio, all celebrate him for what he has accomplished in our city,” Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson said. “And for him to have an opportunity to go out and represent the University of Texas-San Antonio is a beautiful thing. It’s why we start our recruitment in this city, to be able to covet and wrap our arms around the best and the brightest players in this city.”

Sincere McCormick added 74 rushing yards, breaking off a 47-yard jaunt as the Roadrunners racked up 284 on the ground and 490 overall. There are some things for them to clean up ahead of this contest — the Roadrunners were flagged for 13 penalties totaling 145 yards — but they were also a combined 10 for 17 on third and fourth down, which helped them control the ball for more than 40 minutes.

Another area UTSA showed strength was in run defense, holding the Cardinals to 28 yards on 20 carries, with 15 of those yards coming on a single play. Wilson rotated 12 defensive linemen throughout the game, something that likely will continue in this contest.

“I just think we believed in the scheme,” safety Savion Harris said. “We believe in the plan going into the game, and just really everyone made plays out there on from the D-line to the linebackers and we just trusted our offense.”

UTSA began this three-year series with a 17-10 upset of Baylor in Waco in 2017, its lone road win over a Power 5 school in eight tries.

Bears riding high after rout of SFA

Brewer did not see plying time in the 2017 loss to the Roadrunners as he started the season behind Anu Solomon and Zach Smith on the depth chart.

The junior stepped into the starting role last year after Solomon graduated and Smith transferred to Tulsa, throwing for 328 yards and three touchdowns as the Bears won 37-20 in San Antonio. Brewer got his 2019 off to a winning start in somewhat similar fashion last weekend in a 56-17 rout of FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin.

Brewer did not have a gaudy yardage total, finishing with 199 while completing 21 of 31 passes, but he did have another three scoring throws as the Bears ripped off five touchdowns in a 15:46 span bridging the second and third quarters.

“I thought the fact that we didn’t give away any home runs on defense was really pleasing and we struck hard – there were a lot of big hits in the game,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said at his weekly press conference. “There were a lot of good things, I told our team, you didn’t play bad and you didn’t play well, you just played how you played. Just get past all of the labels and you played like you played, whether good or bad who cares what you label it, just try to do better next week.”

John Lovett had 108 yards on just eight carries for Baylor, but JaMycal Hasty did not find similar success as he was limited to 25 on 10 attempts. Both of Trestan Ebner’s rushes resulted in touchdowns as he found paydirt from 21 and 11 yards during a 21-point second quarter. R.J. Sneed was one of three Bears with five catches as he totaled a team-high 57 yards and caught two of Brewer’s three TD passes.

With the familiarity of facing the Roadrunners the past two seasons, Rhule is anticipating a stern challenge from UTSA’s defensive line — something that did not fully materialize last year when Baylor had 128 yards on 19 rushes when taking away quarterback Cordale Grundy’s losses.

“They are hard to move the football against,” Rhule said. “They give you tough looks and they’re just really good up front. They have big physical players that play really, really hard. You watch defenses right now across the country, not everyone plays hard. They play hard. That brings a lot of challenges to us. At the end of the day, their ethos you know, I think we know that.”

Notable Trends

Baylor is:

  • 2-8 ATS in its last 10 home games.
  • 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight non-conference games.
  • 1-5-1 ATS in its last seven games following a straight up win by 21 or more points.

UTSA is:

  • 4-2 ATS in its last six games.

*****5-Star Pick*****

UNDER 58 points (-110)

The under has traveled well with UTSA, going 7-3 in its last 10 overall and 5-1 in its last six against teams with winning records. The Roadrunners’ offense is a concern given the step up in competition from FCS foe to Big 12 opponent, and it will be the first time Frank Harris sees a high-caliber defense.

But this is also another pick in UTSA’s defensive line doing its part to keep Baylor’s offense off the field by slowing down the Bears on the ground. The under has a solid 9-2 mark in Baylor’s last 11 games coming off a 40-point contest and is 6-1 in the last seven when the Bears are following up a win by 20 or more points.

This line ticked one-half point higher, and with confidence in the under, any and all help is appreciated.

****4-Star Pick****

Baylor UNDER 41.5 points (-110)

Dating back to the start of 2018, Baylor has scored more than 40 points against an FBS opponent just once in 12 games — its bowl win over Vanderbilt to end last season. The Bears should range closer to the 35-point mark in this contest if UTSA’s defensive line is as good as advertised to make Brewer and company sustain drives to earn their points.

***3-Star Picks***

UTSA +25.5 (-110)

The Roadrunners have given as well as they’ve gotten in the first two games of this series, and the expectation is they will again be competitive Saturday. With a game-time temperature forecast of 100 degrees in Waco, UTSA’s depth along the defensive line is going to play a critical role in keeping Baylor within shouting distance.

As long as Baylor remains favorites by 24.5 or more points, the Roadrunners look to be a solid play provided they are able to contain Hasty and Lovett while limiting the damage Brewer inflicts.

UTSA +14.5 1st half (-110)

The Roadrunners have hung tough in the previous two meetings, playing the Bears to a stalemate in Waco two years ago and trailing by seven at halftime last season. UTSA has been within six points in four of its last six non-conference road games, and the hook on the high side helps in this instance.

UNDER 31 points 1st half (-105)

The teams have split this total in their two meetings, combining for 14 points in 2017 and 33 last season. All four of UTSA’s non-conference games were 34 or fewer points last season, and there is confidence in the Roadrunners’ defensive line to make Baylor work for its points and chew some clock.

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