Two of the top teams in the nation outside of Power Five conferences meet as No. 24 San Diego State plays UTSA in the Frisco Bowl on Tuesday. The Aztecs earned a trip to the Mountain West Championship Game after reaching 11 regular-season wins for the first time in program history. Though they lost big to Utah State, the Aztecs also had 20 players miss the title game with COVID issues.
UTSA is in the midst of a magical run in coach Jeff Traylor's second season. After coming into the year with no more than seven wins since joining Conference USA in 2012, the Roadrunners went 12-1 with a 49-41 win over high-powered Western Kentucky to win the conference.
Notably, two-time All-American running back Sincere McCormick will not play for UTSA in the bowl game after declaring for the NFL Draft. However, both teams should be plenty motivated regardless; the Roadrunners have not won a bowl game in program history. These two teams have also never played.
San Diego State vs. UTSA: Need to know
Historic season: When UTSA started a football program in 2011, a season like this was exactly what everyone in San Antonio dreamed of. The Roadrunners didn't just set a new bar, they shattered all expectations, going 12-1 and winning Conference USA for the first time. For comparison, UTSA had never won more than seven games since joining C-USA. The season launched Traylor into stardom, and it was even enough to push UTSA into the American Athletic Conference heading forward as part of the latest round of conference realignment.
Punt God: The best player in this game might be the best player at his position in all of college football. San Diego State punter Matt Araiza shattered the all-time record for punting at 51.4 yards per punt and set all-time records for the most punts over 50 yards -- and over 60 yards. Only 15 of his punts were touchbacks compared to 36 falling within the 20-yard line. Araiza is legitimate NFL Draft prospect and his insane leg is a significant part in his rise.
Battle of opposites: San Diego State put together one of the best defenses in college football in 2021, ranking No. 6 in defensive EPA and No. 5 in defensive success rate. However, UTSA is probably the most efficient offense the Aztecs will have played, ranking No. 9 in passing success rate and No. 16 in offensive points per drive. Quarterback Frank Harris has taken an incredible leap as a senior and receivers Zakhari Franklin, Joshua Cephus and De'Corian Clark each cleared 650 yards. Something has to give.
How to watch Frisco Bowl live
Game: Frisco Bowl
Date: Saturday, Dec. 21 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Toyota Stadium -- Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Frisco Bowl prediction, picks
This is a Group of Five battle of titans, but the steadier team is poised to come out on top. San Diego State is perhaps the most physical opponent UTSA has faced all season, but the Roadrunners did not back down against physical run-heavy teams like Memphis or Illinois. With a shot to win its first bowl game in program history, don't expect the Roadrunners to falter -- even without McCormick. Prediction: UTSA (+3)
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