Officially, it’s the second kickoff of the 2022 bowl season. Yet, according to Troy head coach Jon Sumrall, you might go ahead and stop looking for a more interesting postseason matchup, outside of the college football playoff, than when his team faces UTSA in Friday’s Cure Bowl in Orlando.

Both teams are conference champions. Troy won the Sun Belt Conference. UTSA won Conference USA. Both teams have 11 wins and are riding 10-game win streaks. Both won their conference title games in decisive fashion. UTSA is powered by a high-octane offense. Troy wins games with a shutdown defense.

There’s plenty of reasons to turn on the television for the 2 p.m. kickoff on Friday.

“This game is as good as there is from a matchup perspective,” Sumrall said. “I think this is as intriguing of a football game as there is the entire bowl season.”

UTSA is 23-4 the past two seasons under head coach Jeff Traylor. The reasons for the back-to-back C-USA championships are multi-layered but it begins at quarterback.

“Frank Harris, is one of the top quarterbacks in all of college football,” Sumrall said. “And, without question, maybe the best in all Group of 5 football right now.”

Harris, a 6-foot, 205-pound lefty, was selected the Conference USA Most Valuable Player after throwing for 3,865 yards with 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushing for 588 yards and nine touchdowns. In the past two seasons, he's combined for 7,042 yards passing with 58 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while rushing for 1,154 yards with 15 touchdowns.

“He’s a dual-threat quarterback,” said Troy defensive lineman Will Choloh. “He throws the ball good. Obviously, he can run the ball. He does a good job of just doing what their offense requires, taking the easy stuff when he needs to, taking off and running when it needs to. I trust our preparation. I trust our guys on the defense to be able to contain and do our best.”

UTSA has a pair of NFL quality receivers in Zakhari Franklin (86 catches, 1,100 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Joshua Cephus (87 catches, 985 yards, six touchdowns). Running backs Kevorian Barnes and Brenden Brady combined for 1,412 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Roadrunners are 9th in the country in total offense (486.1 yards per game) and 12th in scoring offense (38.7 points per game). Troy is 19th in the country in total defense (325.3 yards per game) and 8th in scoring defense (17.5 points per game). Pressuring the quarterback could be an advantage for Troy, which is 14th in the country with 39 sacks. UTSA allowed 24 sacks, which is 54th in the country.

“Our guys have responded all year,” Sumrall said. “I think it’s a very unique matchup with their offense vs. our defense. It’s definitely a strength vs. strength. We’ve got to play really sound football. We’ve got to swarm to the ball and get a lot of hats around the ball. We got to play clean football. We can’t give up explosive plays. That’s where they just absolutely gash people.”

Do that and the Trojans have a chance for an attention-grabbing win.

“We don’t shy away that we want to be one of the premier Group of 5 teams in all of college football,” Sumrall said. “I do firmly believe that our league, the Sun Belt, is entrenching itself as the best Group of 5 conference. I think, continuing to do that, you not only represent your program, you’re representing the Sun Belt.  Texas San Antonio is a really strong team. They’re incredibly talented and well-coached. But, it’s definitely us, trying to help our league as we move forward and our program as we move forward.”

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