WACO, Texas — UTSA turned one of its dreams into a reality after having to wait an extra week to open the season.
For Baylor, the results in their first two games under coach Matt Rhule have been more like a nightmare.
“Last year, we always talked about us being dream chasers — I wanted them to envision it, to dream about it, and to aspire to want to be there,” second-year UTSA coach Frank Wilson said. “And we’re all grown up from that now.”
Dalton Sturm threw for 155 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 98 more yards as UTSA beat the Bears 17-10 on Saturday night for its first-ever win over a Power Five team.
“It feels amazing,” said Sturm, the senior and former walk-on who started his 21st consecutive game.
The Bears are 0-2 for the first time since 2003, and have now lost eight consecutive regular-season games. They won the Cactus Bowl last December after a 6-6 record was enough to get one of the Big 12’s bowl spots.
“If anybody can handle adversity it’s the group of kids, they’ve been dealing with adversity for a while now,” Rhule said.
UTSA went ahead to stay on the opening drive after halftime when Sturm had a keeper for 40 yards and then on the next play threw a 29-yard TD pass to Kerry Thomas Jr. for a 14-7 lead.
A week after their scheduled opener at home against Houston was cancelled because of Hurricane Harvey, the Roadrunners started their seventh season as a program with their biggest win yet. They had been 0-9 against Power Five teams.
Jalen Rhodes ran for 103 yards on 20 carries for the Roadrunners.
Rhule, coming off consecutive 10-win seasons and an AAC title at Temple, took over a Baylor squad in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that rocked the nation’s largest Baptist university. Two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles was fired in May 2016.
Under interim coach Jim Grobe last season, the Bears started 6-0 before six losses in a row.
Both of Baylor’s losses under Rhule have been against first-time opponents that had never before beaten a Power Five team. The Bears opened the season with a 48-45 loss to Liberty, a team just starting the two-year transition from the FCS to FBS.
“We’ll become a good football team sooner than later,” Rhule said. “When we’re a good football, those kids that are crying in the locker room right now, they’ll be tough to beat because they’ll have gone through this process.”
After Victor Falcon’s 38-yard field goal with 14:12 put the Roadrunners up 17-7, they gained only 1 yard on its next three series without a first down. But when Baylor got the ball back with just over 2 minutes left, the defense pressured Anu Solomon into four consecutive incompletions, and linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was wrapped around the quarterback when he made his desperate fourth-down heave.
Baylor has already played 15 true freshmen this season, including five that started against UTSA.
UTSA: The Roadrunners won six games and went to their first-ever bowl last season in Wilson’s debut. A win at Baylor is a huge boost for Year 2. “To be able to deliver a signature win for our university, for our city, for our fans, it’s a big deal,” Wilson said.
Baylor: The Bears had 137 yards passing and 137 yards rushing. But graduate transfer Solomon, after a promising debut (278 yards with three TDs passing with 97 yards rushing), had 10 carries for 9 yards and was 10 of 26 passing for 121 yards.
“I know I didn’t step up, I know I didn’t play today,” Solomon said. “At the end of the day, that’s on me.”
UTSA: The Roadrunners get to play their home opener next Saturday against SWAC team Southern, two weeks after their scheduled opener against Houston that won’t be made up this season.
Baylor: The Bears go to ACC team Duke next Saturday for their first nonconference game against a Power Five team since 2009.