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The Roadrunner’s first win against Houston demonstrated the experience that preseason reviews raved about and even proved more impressive after Houston’s blow out of its week-two opponent, Grambling State, 47-0. However, it was in the fourth-year program’s three-point loss that the UTSA faithful were able to stop and appreciate the success that their young Roadrunners had amassed in such a short stint.

The Orange and Blue’s identity was no longer synonymous with just another University of Texas satellite school—being commonly referred to as simply UT-San Antonio— but as what thousands of Roadrunner’s chanted after each game, “UTSA!”

“We have come a long way, and the fact that where we are and that we are competitive, says a lot about our program,” stated UTSA Head Coach Larry Coker on his team’s short road since becoming a program.

Although UTSA’s record doesn’t adequately reflect the impact that this nationally televised game did for them, many who tuned into the program’s 36th game were given a chance to see how the Roadrunners would fare against another formidable Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team for the second straight week.

Arizona’s freshman quarterback Anu Solomon came into Thursday’s game after setting a freshman single-game record the week before with 425 passing yards and leading an offense that racked up a total of 787 total yards, which also set a school record.

Arizona plays in one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) most prestigious “Power Five” conferences—which includes the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12), Southeastern Conference (SEC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten and Big 12— and regularly faces FBS juggernauts like the University of Southern California (USC), Oregon and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

To say the Roadrunners have come a long way is an understatement, and to place them in the same conversation that many Power Five coaches group them in— regarding their lack of legitimacy in competition in comparison to those of top FBS schools— is unacceptable.

“Rich— Head coach of the Arizona Wildcats, and former coach of FBS schools University of Michigan and the University of West Virginia—said the Roadrunners were the toughest team they would play all year, and to hear that is a huge compliment,” said Coker. “It says a lot about our staff, and what we as a program are doing here.”

UTSA’s performance Thursday night showed the country this team is legitimate, and is not only looking to just make games interesting, but also to win and show the nation that the UTSA Roadrunners are a quality opponent worthy of any top program’s schedule.

“We are not coming into these games trying to keep it close,” noted UTSA’s senior quarterback Tucker Carter, who finished the game with 228 yards through the air and one touchdown. “We expected to win that game tonight, and we left our hearts out on the field. Sometimes you wind up short.”

Decisions on whether schools in the “Group of Five”— American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt Conference, and the Mountain West Conference—should be eligible in the new college football playoff has yet to be cemented. However, if the Roadrunners can keep playing well and capture their first conference crown this year, they may soon pave a path that could lead them to their first bowl appearance in the school’s history. Although obtaining a spot in one of the “New Year’s Six” bowls— Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Chick-fil-A Bowl— seems unlikely in the near future, the Roadrunners and all of C-USA are making an admirable case to keep their conference in the mix.

After notable wins against other Group of Five conference teams—which include Western Kentucky toppling former MAC champion Bowling Green, and Louisiana Tech beating one of the Sun Belt’s top programs, Louisiana-Lafayette— the case for teams like UTSA to be eligible to play in this new college football era grows in the eyes of Power Five coaches everywhere.

“I think if anything, Arizona respects us more, and I think we have earned a lot of respect from teams around the nation after putting on the performance we did tonight,” said UTSA’s senior running back David Glasco II, who led the team with 12 carries on 37 yards and a touchdown.

There aren’t many moral victories in football— you either win or lose. Yet whatever the case may be, this Roadrunner squad has not only made UTSA believe in its football season but also the city of San Antonio. The support and energy brought from the community is contagious and inspires this Roadrunner team to continue leaving their hearts out on the field and delivering their absolute best.

“We are some of the guys that got overlooked coming out of high school and always play with a chip on our shoulder,” mentioned UTSA’s senior wideout David Morgan, who helped the Roadrunners by snagging in five completions for 76 yards. “Many schools, or the media, don’t look very high of you, and it lights a fire under you to always leave your best out on the field.”

It was clear Thursday night that the Roadrunners were unhappy and sick of being reminded from countless media outlets that they are a young team with no real future aspirations.

“Everyone counts us out; the media said we weren’t anything,” said Morgan. “But we stick together, and only the guys in that locker room know what we bring to the table.”

When asked what the team’s next course of action was, Glasco responded, “We are going to get into the film room tomorrow and figure out how to never feel this way again.”

The UTSA Roadrunners (1-1) will take the field again at Boone Pickens Stadium when they face the Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-1) at 6:00 pm Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

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