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“Why Not Us?” – UTSA Football’s Historic Season Continues in Frisco at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Bowl

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“In the history of the [UTSA] program, we’ve never won a bowl game, right?… These guys have done a lot of firsts this year… Somebody’s going to be the first team to win a bowl game in the history of this school. Why not us?”

That was one of the challenges that second-year head coach Jeff Traylor gave to his team at the beginning of the season. In two weeks on Tuesday, December 21, the UTSA Roadrunners (12-1) will have the opportunity to make history, something that has happened nearly every week this year.

On Sunday afternoon, the word quickly spread that the 2021 Conference USA Champion Roadrunners were selected for the Tropical Smoothie Bowl Frisco Bowl. The selection of UTSA to the Bowl was first reported by JJ Perez of Inside Runner Sports.


Hosted at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, UTSA will be the visitors against the No.24 San Diego State University Aztecs (11-2). It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs on the gridiron.

The announcement came down just hours after the 10-year-old program finished the season ranked No.24 in the Associated Press, and No.25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. UTSA had fallen off all rankings after their Week 12 loss to North Texas in the regular-season finale. Appearing in the polls for the first time in program history this season, the team reached as high as No.22 in the College Football Playoff rankings, as well as No.15 in the AP, and No.18 in the Coaches Poll.

Reaction to the Tropical Smoothie Bowl

There’s a shared belief around the city that the program should’ve received a more prestigious bowl game. Back in early November, there was even an inkling that they could make one of the New Year’s Six games.

“The only thing we can do is control what we can control”, senior linebacker Charles “Chuck” Wiley said to the media after the bowl announcement when asked his thoughts about getting the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Bowl after the 12-1 season. “This is the bowl they set us up with, so this is what we’re working with.”

For those that have followed the program the last two seasons since head coach Jeff Traylor arrived, that mantra of “control the controllables” is familiar. The second-year head coach also went back to it when asked about being selected to go to Frisco.

“That’s a culture pillar violation right”, he remarked. “Control the controllables, right? We have no control over that. We can just go where they tell us to go and play who they tell us to play. We’re going to trust The Triangle and follow our culture.”

In the end, there was input from the athletic department at UTSA as to what game the team would play in. Athletic Director Dr. Lisa Campos believes this is a good opportunity for the fanbase to attend the game.

UTSA Athletic Director Dr. Lisa Campos addresses the media after UTSA Football accepts an invitation to play in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. Credit: Jonas Clark

“I’m so excited for our fans,” she told the media on Sunday. “Again, that was one of the things we’ve always talked about, having a fan experience and making sure that they can attend the game… We’re really excited for our fans and for our team.”

How to Buy Tickets to UTSA’s Bowl Game

The university has released a link for tickets to the game that fans can purchase in the UTSA section in Toyota Stadium. Click HERE to be redirected. Seating capacity limits are reportedly 17,200. At the Conference USA Championship Game in San Antonio, Texas last Friday, 41,148 fans showed up to watch the Roadrunners play the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers.

Previewing the San Diego State University Aztecs

The Aztecs won’t have long to lick their wounds after losing 46-13 in the Mountain West Conference championship game on Saturday to Utah State. Their only loss of the regular season was to a hot Fresno State team. Victories this year include wins over the PAC 12’s Utah Utes and Arizona Wildcats.

San Diego State’s defensive strength is on the ground, where they’ve held their opponents under 100 yards rushing 10 times this season. How they handle the Roadrunners ground game of Sincere McCormick, Brenden Brady, and the dual-threat ability of Frank Harris will be something to watch. The Aztecs are now 10-0 this season when they run for more yards than their opponent.

Overall, SDSU’s identity is on defense. They rank 17th in the country, allowing an average of 19.46 points per game. UTSA currently ranks 12th in the nation, averaging 37.8 points per game. The Aztecs rank 80th at 26.5 points per game and have benefited greatly from their secondary creating extra opportunities. They’ve forced 16 interceptions this season.

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.

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