I-35: A Rivalry to be Reckoned With

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We’ve since recovered from what felt like flatlining, but the transgressions of yesterday’s matchup still feel surreal.

If college football didn’t know which highway traversed Central Texas, they certainly do now. In front of a national audience this rivalry delivered the best installment of the series so far; a true blood battle for regional glory and bragging rights.

More so, two programs that have spent the last several years in shambles and recently transitioned through regime changes proved that they’re turning around. UTSA nor Texas State of the last three years would make any of the big-moment plays that they made last night. That was true progress and real building blocks being laid out for two programs surrounded with a wealth of local talent.

Beware G5, I-35 is on its way.

A tale of two halves.

Aside from the contest’s first five plays from scrimmage combining for an outrageous 148 yards and two touchdowns, UTSA commanded the first half with force. Of Texas State’s eight first half possessions, four ended in three-and-outs and another an interception.

Offensively, the Roadrunners pounded TXST with running backs Sincere McCormick and Brenden Brady bruising their way through the defensive line. The two ended the day with 6.8 and 5.9 yards per carry, respectively.

Frank Harris danced his way into two smooth touchdown runs and connected with precision on his passes. The UTSA defense was hitting hard, low, leading with their shoulders, and wrapping up ball carriers.

It seemed to be a clear mismatch when the first frame ended with a 24-7 halftime score. The Roadrunners were outclassing Texas State minus an early mental error.

Then, the game changed. Something happened. After UTSA goes three-and-out to begin the half, Texas State marches right downfield and Tyler Vitt throws a touchdown pass in just four plays.

Another fluke? Has to be.

Certainly felt like it after Frank Harris ran into the end zone after just four plays of our own, making for a hat trick in rushing touchdowns on the day.

But then, the offense stalled. And Texas State’s kept firing. Another two-play touchdown drive? Must be the third fluke of the day.

No, follow that up with an 11-play, 91-yard drive to make it a one possession game again.

What the hell’s going on here??

Piss-poor tackling left and right. Defenders bouncing off ball carriers, weak arm tackles, and failures to wrap up after contact allowed the Bobcats to earn all of the momentum.

Toss in some bad penalties and welp.

We match their 14 points with a field goal and the world appeared to be crumbling as Vitt was nine plays and 59 yards into their next drive. Then, nothing short of divine intervention.

Rashad Wisdom, tip-pick-six. 80 yards to the house. Celebrate, it’s over. Victory.

So certain in fact, that Coach Jeff Traylor opts for the extra point to make it a 13-point lead rather than going for two to make it a 14-point lead. Who cares? Only 3:24 left.

Traylor’s playcalling seemed to shift toward more conservative through the second half. UTSA went from playing to win to playing not to lose.

And Coach Jake Spavital and TXST capitalized on it, by relentlessly pressing and exhausting our defense.

If not for Alan Orona missing two go-ahead placekicks to setup a TXST victory, UTSA is on the other end of a game they would have had no business losing.

Even with TWO timeouts and 1:16 left to play, Traylor opted to KNEEL instead of trying to win the damn game! A sin! Inexcusable!

What in the hell happened to “being aggressive”?!

Larry Coker famously said “We’ll go the 99” when faced with a similar predicament in New Mexico (actually even more tumultuous), and we did it.

That was horse hockey, Jeff.

But interstate forces were on our side, and we narrowly escaped the jaws of defeat by the all-reliable foot of UTSA placekicker, Hunter “Suplexis” Duplessis, who turned a hat trick of his own on the day, three for three on field goals (and six for six on extra points) with long of 42.

Two overtimes later, we escaped. We should have won by 17 points in regulation.

What the hell happened from that first half to the second?

So much to digest, we will breakdown more this week on the pod.

1-0 for Traylor.

4-0 for the rivalry.

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