2022 Cure Bowl Preview

2022 Cure Bowl

When the Troy Trojans and the UTSA Roadrunners meet in the 2022 Cure Bowl, it will be the only bowl match-up featuring two conference champions. Both teams enter with identical 11-2 records with Troy from the Sun Belt and UTSA out of C-USA. The eighth edition of the bowl will also be the first game of the bowl season featuring two ranked teams. The Trojans sit at 24th and the Roadrunners are ranked 25th. More than likely the loser will exit the rankings. The 2022 Cure Bowl will be played on Friday, December 16th with a 3 p.m. EST time kick-off on ESPN at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The broadcasters for the game will be Beth Mowins and Kirk Morrison in the booth, and Stormy Buonantony on the sideline.

2022 Cure Bowl Preview

Troy Trojans

The Sun Belt has placed a team in the Cure Bowl each year of its existence, and this time it is a first-time participant in the Troy Trojans. It has been quite a renaissance under first-year head coach Jon Sumrall. Winning 10-plus games became the norm under Neal Brown, but Chip Lindsey could only muster five wins per season over the last three. Sumrall rebuilt the wall that Brown had worked so hard to build during his time at Troy. The season got off to a shaky start with a 28-10 loss to Ole Miss, and a hail-mary defeat in game three to Appalachian State. Instead of letting those setbacks derail the team, they went on to win ten games in a row. The last game in that streak was a 46-24 defeat of Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Championship Game.

Troy is first led by their defense. A group that was one of the best in college football a year ago got better in 2022. It starts with Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Cartlon Martial at linebacker. Where he may lack the prototypical size of a linebacker, he makes up for it in heart and tenacity. Martial became the FBS all-time tackles leader against Army and currently sits at 551 in a career. Wherever the ball goes there is a good chance Martial will get there. In front of him on the defensive line are three All-Sun Belt performers in T.J. Jackson, Will Choloh, and Richard Jibunor. Jackson is third in the Sun Belt with eight sacks on the season.

The offense was not as consistent as the defense throughout the season but has come on late in the season. They have scored at least 34 points in each of the last three games, averaging 42.3 points per game. Before that, the offense was putting up just 21.3 points. The key to improved offense has been quarterback Gunnar Watson, and the emergence of a run game. Watson over that three-game stretch has completed 63% of his passes for 540 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception. He had his best game of the season against Coastal Carolina passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Kimani Vidal has led the rushing attack this season with 1,059 yards. Over the last three games though he has rushed for 503 yards and six touchdowns behind an offensive line anchored by All-Sun Belt players in Austin Stidham and Jake Andrews.

UTSA Roadrunners

Success is not something new to the UTSA Roadrunners. They are repeat champions of C-USA and ended last season with a 12-2 record. The Roadrunners did not end the season with a win after losing the Frisco Bowl to San Diego State 38-24. Head coach Jeff Traylor is in his third season at UTSA, and the team has a 30-9 record with him leading the way. This is their third consecutive bowl appearance. This will be the last football game for UTSA in C-USA before they head to the American Athletic Conference next season.

Offensively they are led at quarterback by C-USA MVP Frank Harris. He continued his stellar play for last season passing for 3,865 yards with 31 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 71%. Harris is coming off a great performance against North Texas where he passed for 341 yards and four touchdowns in the 48-27 victory. He has plenty of weapons with C-USA Freshman of the Year Kevorian Barnes at running back and wide receiver Zakhari Franklin. Barnes rushed for 713 yards and six touchdowns and delivered a clutch performance in the conference championship game with 175 yards. Franklin is first in C-USA with 14 touchdown receptions, and second with 1,100 yards. Those ingredients led to the Roadrunners having the best offense in C-USA.

The conference is not known for its great defense, but UTSA was not terrible in that category. The Roadrunners ranked fifth in total defense giving up 404.8 yards per game, and third allowing 26.5 points per contest. Defensive backs Clifford Chattman and Corey Mayfield are both all-conference performers that could give the Troy passing game issues. Chattman picked off the quarterback four times this season, and Mayfield added three. Upfront they are led by defensive tackle Brandon Brown. He collected 20 tackles on the season and 5.5 tackles for loss. The strength of the unit is the run defense that ranked third in the conference.

Who wins the 2022 Cure Bowl?

The 2022 Cure Bowl is a game that should come down to the wire. While the strengths of these two teams are obvious with the UTSA offense and the Troy defense. Actually, the winner will be decided by the opposite units. The Roadrunner defense and the Trojan offense. The one that has been going in the more positive direction is the Troy offense, and that is why they will get the victory. The Troy Trojans win the 2022 Cure Bowl 34-24 and get their 12th victory of the season.





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