SAN ANTONIO – When the first edition of the college football playoff rankings was released last Tuesday, UTSA was noticeably absent.
The Roadrunners had moved up into the top 20 in both the AP Top 25 and the AFCA Coaches Poll, but were the only undefeated team left off the committee’s rankings. In fact, CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta went so far as to get the university’s name wrong, calling them “USTA” -- the acronym for the United States Tennis Association.
Head coach Jeff Traylor took that ammunition and ran with it throughout the past week, and after the Roadrunners dominated UTEP in El Paso on Saturday evening to improve to 9-0 on the season, it appears that the committee is finally ready to acknowledge UTSA.
The Roadrunners earned the program’s first appearance in the CFP rankings on Tuesday night, coming in at No. 23. The ranking is eight spots lower than their current No. 15 ranking in the AP Top 25 and seven spots lower than their No. 16 rankings in the AFCA Coaches Poll. UTSA is one of four remaining undefeated teams in college football. The other three -- No. 1 Georgia, No. 5 Cincinnati and No. 8 Oklahoma -- were all ranked in the top 10.
The committee focuses mainly on quality of play and strength of schedule to determine rankings. None of the teams on the Roadrunners’ remaining schedule are ranked, meaning even if they finish the season 13-0 with a Conference USA title, it is unlikely that they will rise high enough in the committee’s estimation to compete for a spot in the top four. That should not take away from what has been a massive step forward for the program, and for their part, the team has been adamant that they need to control what they can control.
The next step of that process is Saturday afternoon. The Roadrunners return to the Alamodome to host 1-8 Southern Miss looking for their 10th straight win to start the season. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.