This year’s First Responder Bowl will see the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners taking on the 16th ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. The Roadrunners were originally slated to play in the Frisco Bowl against the Southern Methodist Mustangs. However, SMU was unable to follow through with this game due to COVID-19 related issues amongst the team. The First Responder Bowl will be played the day after Christmas on December 26th. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 EST at the Gerald J. Ford Stadium in University Park, TX. The game will be televised on ABC for those watching at home and Louisiana is currently a 13 point favorite to win this matchup. Read the 2020 First Responder Bowl Preview for more on the game.
2020 First Responder Bowl Preview
The First Responder Bowl was first played in January of 2011 where it featured Texas Tech and Northwestern. The most recent installment of the bowl game saw Western Michigan take on Western Kentucky, where the former escaped with a 23-20 victory. The 2020 First Responder Bowl will be the 11th time that this bowl game has been played.
This year UTSA and Louisiana will face off for the first time ever. It will be interesting to see the two teams finally play each other in a high stake’s matchup.
UTSA 2020 Recap
The Roadrunners had a solid season as they were coached to a 7-4 overall record behind first-year NCAA head coach Jeff Traylor. This was the first year since 2017 that the Roadrunners have finished the season with a winning record. This will also be UTSA’s second-ever bowl appearance in their brief nine-year history. Coach Traylor relied on two weapons to turn UTSA’s program around, however, none were more important than the explosive Sincere McCormick. The sophomore running back had a breakout year as he had the second-most rushing yards in the country. McCormick carried the ball 226 times for 1,345 yards and 11 rushing scores. The Roadrunners also relied on junior quarterback Frank Harris. The dual-threat quarterback was able to use his abilities to pass for 1,422 yards and ten touchdowns. However, his elusiveness on the ground is what makes him so special. Harris had 437 rushing yards on 77 attempts to go along with eight rushing scores. Although he had battled injuries for part of the season, Harris seems bowl ready.
Louisiana 2020 Recap
The Ragin’ Cajuns outperformed everyone’s expectations this year. Louisiana finished the year with a 9-1 overall record including a very impressive win over Iowa State. Their only loss came from ninth-ranked Coastal Carolina in which the Chanticleers squeaked by Louisiana with a three-point victory. This team has been a dark horse all season and have ridden their momentum into the First Responder Bowl. Louisiana has been led by outstanding performances from quarterback Levi Lewis. The senior has 2,128 yards on 275 attempts. His total passing yards this season rank him in the top 25 in all of FBS and his 17 touchdown passes this season are tied for 27th in football. Lewis is also able to get it done on the ground. He has 310 rushing yards on 48 attempts and five rushing scores. However, Louisiana’s best asset might just be their defense. The Ragin’ Cajuns rank 28th in opponents’ points/game in which they allow 21.8 per game. Louisiana has recovered five fumbles and intercepted 15 passes this season as well which makes them a force when it comes to pass defense.
Keys to Win
For UTSA to win this matchup they have to rely on McCormick. He has been nothing short of dominant all season. McCormick has rushed for more than 130 yards in six of his ten appearances this season. Louisiana allows about 180 rushing yards and almost two rushing scores per game this season. It would be wise of UTSA to focus on running the ball against this dominant pass defense. Frank Harris should also look to tuck and run the ball more frequently in this matchup to keep the secondary on their toes.
For Louisiana to win this ball game they have to have another solid outing from Lewis as well as some help from running back Elijah Mitchell. They have to avoid becoming too one-dimensional and be able to mix up the pass and run. Also, they have to be able to stop McCormick on defense. UTSA’s big threat weapons exist at the quarterback and running back positions, so containing the backfield will be crucial for Louisiana to win this game.