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NCAAF: No. 23 UTSA embraces ‘surreal’ ranking, praises Southern Miss

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Texas-San Antonio focused on the job at hand, not on the hype, after jumping into the Top 25 rankings last month.

That approach championed by second-year coach Jeff Traylor should again serve the Roadrunners (9-0, 5-0 Conference USA) well as they prepare to face downtrodden Southern Miss (1-8, 0-5) on Saturday in San Antonio.

“I have not yet seen us not show up,” Traylor said of his team, ranked No. 15 by AP and No. 23 in the CFP.

And Traylor already has learned how to talk up an inferior opponent. His take on Southern Miss?

“They have great tradition. I am very impressed with how hard they play,” Traylor said. “You have a new program with a new coach coming in there. There is a lot of tradition and they have a lot of athletes.”

As for his team’s run, he said, “I would be lying if I did not say this has been surreal, a dream. I appreciate how it has been mentioned to our fan base to enjoy these moments. These are special moments.”

At the other end of the spectrum is Southern Miss, under first-year coach Will Hall, which has yet to top the 20-point mark against an FBS team this year. Its 38-14 loss to visiting North Texas last week typified the Golden Eagles’ season.

Despite an uplifting goal-line stand at the end of the first half, in which Southern Miss turned back UNT at the 1-yard line to preserve a 14-7 halftime lead, USM got no momentum.

The Mean Green blitzed Southern Miss with a 31-0 second half to send the Golden Eagles to their seventh consecutive defeat.

Hall admitted that injuries have taken a toll on his team, noting that Southern Miss was down to its third-string center, Briason Mays, normally a tackle, against North Texas. Because of the attrition, Hall held a light practice Tuesday.

“We are a little bit thin with our scholarship numbers and we are a little beat up at the end of the year,” Hall said, “so we went on a lighter day with more mental work, which is typically the end of the year for a lot of teams, but especially for us and where we are with our roster numbers.”

Partly because of the offensive-line play, running back Frank Gore Jr., son of the likely future Hall of Famer, has seen his numbers fall off from his freshman campaign. The younger Gore is averaging only 4.3 yards per carry this year, as opposed to 5.9 in 2020.

UTSA has no such problems.

The Roadrunners enter this game off a 44-23 rout of host UTEP in which Frank Harris passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers and Sincere McCormick rushed for 169 yards and one TD, averaging 8.0 yards per attempt.

McCormick had a 75-yard scoring run against UTEP on the second play from scrimmage and the Roadrunners led the rest of the way. McCormick is averaging 5.0 yards a carry.

–Field Level Media

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