Today is a very special day here at STAT BOX STORIES, as we celebrate the 100th entry in just under a year of the site being online; we’re also celebrating the last few days before the official launch of NCAA Football 13, and here at STAT BOX STORIES games have already been played to kick off the football video gaming season this weekend and clear through the end of next week!
To begin the festivities and celebrate the release of the early digital copy of NCAA Football 13 to EA SPORTS Season Ticket holders today, the decision was made to pit two of the new teams added to this year’s game against one another. The Texas State Bobcats and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners are both transitioning to the Western Athletic Conference for the 2012 college football season, and they bring with them a new rivalry to the game: the I-35 Rivalry between the Maroon of Texas State and the Orange of UTSA.
As new members of the Football Bowl Subdivision, both Texas State and UTSA are rated near the bottom of the 123 teams available on-disc in this year’s game. With many of the games here at STAT BOX STORIES contested between highly-rated teams, this would be a fitting new challenge for me using NCAA Football 13 to see if I could lead UTSA to a home victory at the Alamodome. Read on to learn how the game played out!
As a recap, games played for STAT BOX STORIES are on All-American difficulty with 7 minute quarter lengths. No gameplay sliders have been tweaked; only penalty sliders in an attempt to have the game officiated more in line with real life.
Texas State won the coin toss and elected to kick off to begin the game, setting up UTSA with the first drive of the STAT BOX STORIES NCAA Football 13 season. The Roadrunners were able to move across the 50-yard-line and into Texas State territory, but then their quarterback overthrew his receiver on what could have been a touchdown pass and the offense was forced to punt. The Bobcats’ first possession also resulted in a lengthy drive which moved into UTSA’s side of the field, but a big sack on 3rd down forced Texas State to return the favor and punt the ball back.
Unfortunately for the home team’s fans, the next UTSA drive was brought to a quick halt by an interception on their own side of the field. Momentum seemed poised to swing the Bobcats way until a run stop on 3rd down forced another Texas State punt. UTSA’s next drive got back into Texas State territory but was ended by the quarterback’s second interception of the game, setting up the Bobcats for a hard-fought drive ended with a 6-yard touchdown rush for the first points of the game less than two minutes into the second quarter.
UTSA’s next possession was hampered by a sack and went 3-and-out, and Texas State capitalized on positive field position, ending their drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass just over two minutes after their previous score to take a 14-0 lead.
Things got even worse for UTSA on their next possession, as a hit on the quarterback knocked the intended pass into the air and a Texas State defensive tackle snatched the ball before it hit the ground before returning it to the end zone for yet another Bobcat touchdown and a 21-0 lead in the game.
Down three scores, UTSA showed signs of life by returning the kickoff 54 yards into Texas State territory, sparking some life for the Roadrunners and a 32-yard touchdown pass with 1:24 left in the half to narrow the deficit to 21-7.
The Bobcats were not impressed, however, putting together another solid drive before the end of the half which was punctuated by a 32-yard field goal with one second remaining to go into the halftime break with a 24-7 lead. Texas State benefit from winning the coin toss to begin the game and got the ball right back to begin the third quarter, and their prolific offense kept the drive alive on multiple third downs until they faced a 4th Down at the UTSA 31-yard-line. Momentum appeared to be swinging back to UTSA as the 4th Down try failed, keeping points off the board.
On the next Roadrunners drive, UTSA showed good control and balance, ending the drive with a 23-yard pass to narrow the lead to only 10 points. UTSA’s defense, spurred on by the performance of their offense, created a 3rd Down sack and forced Texas State to punt the ball right back. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners—facing 4th Down in Bobcat territory—their attempt to keep the drive alive failed and the ball was given back to Texas State.
The next Bobcats drive faltered at midfield, but their punt was skillfully downed at the UTSA 2-yard-line, with the Roadrunners facing a long 98-yard road ahead of them to try to get back into the game. After some rushing plays to get out of the shadow of their end zone, a play-action pass mid-way through the fourth quarter resulted in a 41-yard touchdown and the lead being cut to 24-21 in favor of Texas State.
The reeling Bobcats went three-and-out on their next possession, leaving a glimmer of hope for the Roadrunner faithful. At midfield, UTSA faced a key 4th-and-1 with just over a minute remaining in the game and a gutsy pass play gained just enough yardage to keep the game alive. On the very next play, a 33-yard touchdown pass gave the Roadrunners their first lead of the game, 28-24, with just under a minute remaining!
Facing their first deficit, the Texas State offense regrouped and moved down the field on a big 3rd Down pass to keep their own hopes alive. With 20 seconds remaining in the game, the Bobcats quarterback targeted a receiver in the end zone hoping to re-take the lead and salvage a hard-fought road victory…
Unfortunately for him, the UTSA safety got in front of the pass and intercepted it in the end zone, running it back out to the UTSA 30-yard-line and setting off a wild celebration as the Roadrunners only had to run one more play to end the game and take an incredible comeback victory!
Texas State had 6 more first downs than UTSA, but the Roadrunners gained more yards of offense overall. The Bobcats were more proficient on the ground—earning 171 yards to UTSA’s 129—but the Roadrunners made up for it through the air where they out-gained Texas State 296 to 158 despite 7 fewer completions on the game. UTSA also threw 4 passing touchdowns to Texas State’s one, giving the Roadrunners a marked advantage through the air. The teams were roughly equal on third down conversions, but it was UTSA who managed a fourth down conversion at the most important moment of the game to keep their hopes alive. Texas State scored on all of their red zone attempts, while the Roadrunners managed four touchdowns without ever taking a red zone snap! The Bobcats protected the ball much better than their opponents, but their lone interception was what sealed the game at the end of the fourth quarter.
UTSA QB #8 took Player of the Game honors with a 183.5 QB Rating, going 12 for 24 with 296 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Texas State’s dual threat QB #17 went 19 for 29 with a TD and INT through the air, but he was also the Bobcats’ leading rusher with 64 yards on 15 carries. UTSA’s HB #36 was the leading rusher for the game with 112 yard on 22 carries but no touchdowns. Texas State DT #71’s interception return for a touchdown accounted for 6 of the Bobcats’ points, while UTSA’s SS #22’s interception ended the game.
All in all, this game proved another example for why I try to never “rage-quit” a game, no matter what the deficit I’m facing is. It would have been easy to throw in the towel and start over once Texas State returned the interception for a score to go up 21-0, but I decided to dig in and try to make some stops on defense to turn the tide of the game. I was fortunate enough to find success on offense and hold on for a defensive stop when I needed it most at the end of the game to emerge victorious from an exciting first match-up using NCAA Football 13!
Come back tomorrow morning for another STAT BOX STORIES entry using NCAA Football 13 as NC State and ECU meet in a ACC versus C-USA rivalry showdown!