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Underrated matchup for Week 2 of the college football season

Texas State upset Baylor last Saturday in one of the more shocking results from Week 1. Now new head coach G.J. Kinne will try to take out his mentor Jeff Traylor in this I-35 rivalry.

NCAA Football: Texas State at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 of the 2023 college football season was exhilarating as we got intriguing games from Thursday all the way through Monday of Labor Day weekend. Everyone had fun, yeah? Well let’s do this all over again.

Week 2 will give us plenty of intriguing non-conference matchups this weekend, with the eyes of the college football world centering on Tuscaloosa, AL, for the big-time matchup between No. 11 Texas and No. 3 Alabama. We’ll also get No. 20 Texas A&M heading down to Miami and a top 25 showdown between No. 20 Ole Miss and No. 24 Tulane in New Orleans. While those matchups are worth your time and attention, I want to go slightly off the grid.

Every week, I’ll go full hipster and point out an under-the-radar game that you should also be paying attention to on the schedule. This week, let’s head down to the I-35 corridor in Texas for a rivalry matchup that has suddenly gotten real intriguing in the last week.

Texas State at UTSA, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: UTSA -13.5
Total: 66
Moneyline: UTSA -550, Texas State +410

The underrated matchup that we’ll take a look at for Week 2 brings us to the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX, where the Texas State Bobcats will make the short trek south to meet the UTSA Roadrunners. This will be the fifth time these nearby rivals will have taken the field since UTSA started its football program in 2011, and the Roadrunners have won all four games in the series so far. While this game looked like it would be a one-sided affair in the preseason, the results of Week 1 makes this encounter more intriguing.

Texas State had one of the more shocking results in the entire sport last weekend, hammering Baylor in a 42-31 victory. This was surprising considering that it was the debut game of new offensive-minded head coach G.J. Kinne, who managed to show immediate proof of concept against a Big 12 staff known for its defense. Former LSU and Auburn transfer quarterback TJ Finley was superb in his debut for the Bobcats, going 22-30 for 298 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while tacking on an additional score on the ground in the win. He was able to hit several receiving targets like Joey Hobert, who finished the opener with 105 yards and a touchdown. The 42 points and 6.4 yards per play allowed for TSU to make the biggest jump in offensive SP+ rankings following Week 1.

UTSA, meanwhile, fell short in its opener against a Big 12 opponent as it was edged in a 17-14 loss to Houston. The Roadrunners were sloppy, as they missed a field goal that would’ve given them the lead in the second quarter and veteran quarterback Frank Harris was picked off on his first three drives in the second half. The offense also struggled on “money” downs as it went just 6-15 on combined third/fourth down conversion attempts. They did get a nice effort from junior running back Kevorian Barnes, who broke off 16 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. It was an inauspicious start to the season for UTSA, but it is still projected to be one of the top teams in the Group of Five this year.

What makes this rivalry showdown between UTSA and Texas State intriguing is that it has a “student vs. mentor” element going for it between Kinne and UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor. Kinne spent his senior year of high school in 2005 playing quarterback for Traylor at Gilmer High School. After floating around the NFL and CFL for a few years, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at SMU in 2017 while Traylor was an associate head coach. The two wound up on Chad Morris’ Arkansas Staff the following season before the student began moving up the coaching ladder. Kinne eventually landed the head coaching job at Incarnate Word in 2022, officially sharing the city of San Antonio with his mentor. His explosive offense got the Cardinals all the way to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs in his lone season at the helm, and that excellent coaching job got him the gig with Texas State. He is now trying to put the Bobcats on a similar trajectory to what Traylor has done with the Roadrunners over the past few years.

That sets the scene for this mid-afternoon battle at the Alamodome, with these two aspirational Lone Star State rivals butting heads. Kinne is trying to establish TSU as a serious player in Texas high school football recruiting and another upset victory on the road would go a long way towards that goal. Meanwhile, UTSA is still viewed as one of the favorites in the new-look AAC and needs a win at home here to ward off creeping doubts about this year’s squad. If you have an ESPN+ subscription, I highly recommend pulling this game up to watch two veteran quarterbacks in Finley and Harris duke it out.