CFB PREVIEW: Texas State Bobcats @ UTSA Roadrunners

By Simon Carroll

Forget Texas-‘Bama, or Colorado-Nebraska: There’s a sneaky-intriguing game from the Group of Five ranks happening in Texas on Saturday that has enough narratives to command your attention. Cast your eyes over to the Alamodome, where the UTSA Roadrunners welcome the Texas State Bobcats:

The Story So Far...

Both based in Texas, these two schools are heavily intertwined – and not just based on geography either. The ‘story so far’ relating to Texas State and UTSA goes back further than last week – with the two head coaches sharing a special history together…

Bobcats HC GJ Kinne first met Jeff Traylor at the high school level. Twenty years his junior, Kinne slayed Traylor’s Gilmer High team as a quarterback for Canton. The following year he transferred schools to play for Traylor, and the two have had an enduring relationship ever since.

Kinne went on to star for Tulsa after one season at Texas, and had a lengthy if not nomadic pro career that saw stints with the Jets, Giants and Eagles as well as time in the CFL. After he hung up his cleats, he reconnected with Traylor as a coach, who had made the leap to the college ranks. Kinne & Traylor would be colleagues at both SMU and Arkansas, before the latter got his shot as a head coach in San Antonio. It’s fair to say that Traylor has been an incredible success at UTSA, winning 30 games in three years.

Kinne spent time with the Eagles, Hawaii and UCF before getting his first head coaching gig at Incarnate Word in 2022 – a school not ten minutes away from Traylor at UTSA. 12 wins in his first season got him some attention from the FBS ranks, and he was appointed the successor to Jake Spavital at Texas State on December 2nd last year.

In a curious twist, Kinne’s second game at TXST is against his friend and mentor this weekend.

Week 1 Review

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Both these teams faced in-state P5 programs from the Big 12 to kick off their campaigns. Despite having more yards and first downs than Houston, UTSA fell to the Cougars 17-14; turnovers as well as penalties stalling key drives robbing them of an impressive scalp. Despite the loss, UTSA look as strong as advertised, and should have the horses to compete in their first season in the American conference.

As for Kinne and the Bobcats, things couldn’t have gone much better. Travelling to Waco to face Baylor, Texas State flat out embarrassed their more esteemed opponents in the first half, heading into the locker room with a fifteen point lead. The Bears raised their game and pushed for a comeback, but some big defensive stops from the Bobcats helped Kinne engineer maybe the biggest win in this program’s history – in his first game as head coach.

Talk about setting the standard. Now, how does Kinne maintain it?

The Quarterbacks…

Starting college life at LSU before transferring to Auburn, TJ Finley struggled to win the starting job on The Plains. He headed over to San Marcos this offseason looking for a fresh start in what is likely his final season of eligibility. Partnering with former QB Kinne seems to have unlocked this former 4-star prospect’s potential; on his debut for Texas State Finley went 22/30, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Most impressive was his mistake-free stats – in Auburn, Finley had almost as many picks as he did scores. The Bobcats should be excited about what he can achieve in the Maroon and Gold.

Veteran Frank Harris is in his fifth year at UTSA, and has been the starting quarterback for more than two seasons. Prolific under the tutelage of Jeff Traylor, Harris has thrown for more than 9,500 yards in his Roadrunner career, and he’s the undisputed leader of this football program. Something of a gunslinger, Harris has a penchant for an interception, and his three picks last week were a key reason for the team’s frustrating loss against Houston. Expect him to bounce back with a big display on Saturday.

Prospects To Watch…

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Frank Harris – The aforementioned UTSA QB has a resume only an elite few produce during their college careers. He’s a downfield passer who has the mobility to escape the pocket and make plays. As a left hander, expect some Tua comparisons coming your way.

Ashtyn Hawkins – Diminutive, speedy receivers are very much in vogue in the NFL right now. At 5’9″ and under 170lbs, Hawkins more than fits that description. Averaging almost five catches a game in his Bobcat career, Hawkins is a volume receiver that runs out the slot but can also be used in the backfield. Just get the ball in his hands and let him cook.

Joshua Cephus – If 9 catches for 123 yards in the season opener doesn’t put you on the radar of NFL draft scouts, nothing will. 6’3″ but a touch undersized at 185lbs, Cephus has the wingspan to be a dangerous perimeter receiver at the next level. He’s productive too, with 2,600 yards and 20 TD’s in his UTSA career.

Rashad Wisdom – After establishing himself as something of a ballhawk at UTSA, safety Wisdom’s senior year was beset by injury. Returning for one more season, if he can get back to the level of play that saw him record 160 tackles, five picks and two defensive touchdowns in his first three years, he’ll be headed to the NFL.


As good as the performance was from Texas State in Waco last week, UTSA are 13 point favourites for a reason. The Traylor-Kinne dynamic undoubtedly adds an x-factor to the contest; I think Texas State covers, but the Roadrunners get their 2023 season up and running.

Texas State 17-27 UTSA

Image Credit: Derek Russell/Texas State Athletics

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