College Football Picks: Texas-San Antonio vs. Arizona

David Lawrence

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:45 PM GMT

Here is a College Football pick with all Southwestern flavor. Can UTSA avenge a narrow loss to the Wildcats last season, or will Arizona’s close shave give the Pac-12 South champs a big advantage?

Why Texas-San Antonio Will Cover
There’s certainly a good reason to place College Football picks on the Roadrunners against the spread. First of all, they almost beat Arizona last season. UTSA grabbed a lead late in the second quarter. Down by 10 early in the fourth quarter, the Roadrunners scored to bring their deficit to only three points. Twice in the fourth quarter with more than enough time left, UTSA got the ball back with a chance to either tie the game with a field goal or win with a touchdown. The Roadrunners couldn’t do that, but they struck fear into the hearts of the Wildcats, who turned out to be very good last season. UTSA’s defense contained Arizona’s offense, and Roadrunner head coach Larry Coker – who won a national championship with Miami in 2001 and was one play away from winning a repeat title with the Hurricanes in 2002 – is going to put together a defensive game plan that will put UTSA in position to succeed once again.

One thing to consider about Arizona is that the Wildcats – while likely to find some momentum later in the season – could be very rusty. The Arizona offense under head coach Rich Rodriguez fares better the more it gets a chance to play. This is an offense which values tempo and rhythm, and in a season opener, that’s generally lacking. Arizona will certainly struggle in the first quarter. The key will be if UTSA can clamp down on the Wildcats in the second quarter as well. If they can, they can make this a very interesting game and will certainly cover the 31.5 points currently listed on College Football Odds.

One other point about UTSA: The Roadrunners lost three games last season by only one score, and two other games in which their defense did not allow more than 21 points. UTSA could have been an 8-4 team instead of a 4-8 team with just a few more plays. This is a more dangerous team than a lot of people think.

 

Why Arizona Will Cover
The Wildcats are defending Pac-12 South champions, and while they struggled with UTSA a year ago, that game was on the road. This game is at home in Tucson. More importantly, Arizona’s quarterback – Anu Solomon – is a lot more experienced, as are the Wildcats’ other skill position players. Being familiar with UTSA’s scheme and personnel will help Arizona to some degree, but experience should be a much bigger reason to expect Arizona to play well on offense and score at least 40 points, far more than last season’s total of only 26 against the Roadrunners. If Arizona is great on defense, it can certainly blow this game open and cover.

 

Outlook
Arizona will win by a lot, but more than 31 might be a big ask in the first game of the season, with all the rust that will exist on offense. This seems like a game in which Arizona will start slowly, pick up momentum at the start of the third quarter, and pull away for a 42-13 win. If Arizona can dominate the second quarter, it could cover, but all signs point to this being inside the 31.5-point margin.

College Football Free Pick: UTSA +31.5 at Will Hill