No. 5/No. 7 UCA Bears (1-0, 0-0)
at Colorado Buffaloes (1-0, 0-0)
Saturday, Folsom Field, Boulder, Colo., 7 p.m.
Coverage: Pac-12 Network
The Bears opened the 2013 season with an easy 58-7 victory over Southland Conference newcomer Incarnate Word on “The Stripes.”
UCA rolled up 537 yards of total offense and scored on its five possessions of the game, and six of its first seven. Senior QB Wynrick Smothers was a model of efficiency, completing his first 11 straight passes en route to a 27-for-31 performance, for 267 yards and a TD. Backups Ryan Howard and Taylor Reed combined to complete 7 of 10 for 114 yards and another score.
The UCA defense held UIW to just 231 yards of offense, with 68 yards of that coming on the Cardinals’ only scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. UCA freshman Jatavious Wilson quickly answered that drive with a 93-yard kickoff return for a TD that set the final margin.
The victory was UCA’s 13th consecutive at home, and 12th in a row
since the installation of the purple-gray turf in 2011.
Four Bears scored their first career touchdowns in Saturday’s win, and another threw his first career TD pass in the purple and gray.
Sophomore running back Blake Veasley scored UCA’s first two TDs, from 11 and 18 yards, in the first quarter. Freshman receiver/returner Jatavious Wilson scored three times, on the kickoff return and on TD passes of 29 yards from Smothers and 36 yards from Reed, his first at UCA.
Sophomore RB Danzel Williams, a transfer from Oklahoma, had 1- and 3-yard rushing TDs for his first UCA scores. Redshirt freshman WR Desmond Smith fell on a blocked punt in the end zone for his first TD.
Seven FCS schools recorded victories over FBS schools on the opening week of the 2013 season, including SLC member McNeese State’s 53-21 road win over South Florida.
The victories included: Eastern Washington 49, #25 Oregon State 46; North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21; Towson 33, UConn 18; Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20; Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 19; Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21.
Six Southland Conference schools will play FBS opponents again this week, including UCA at Colorado.
UCA coach Clint Conque is one victory away from his 100th career victory as head coach of the Bears. His record, in his 14th season, is 99-54. His teams have won at least 8 games eight times, including an 11-3 mark in 2005, which tied the school record for victories.
The Bears have recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons over the past two years, advancing to the second round of the FCS Playoffs both years.
Missing in Action
The Bears will have five players suspended to begin the 2013 season, including starting running back Willie Matthews for the opening game against UIW.
Matthews missed the season opener, while junior offensive lineman C.J. Simon, junior receiver Jacoby Walker, junior offensive lineman Jordan Kersh and redshirt freshman receiver Wyatt Hikins will miss the first two games. All are due to violations of team rules, according to head coach Clint Conque.
By the Numbers
The Bears converted 10 of 14 third-down attempts last week, and were 1 of 1 on fourth downs as well. UCA had a time of possession advantage of 33:24 to 26:36, including 10:11 in the first period when the Bears scored three times.
UCA punted for a 45.0-yard average and averaged 55.0 yards per kickoff return. UCA quarterbacks completed passes to 10 different receivers, with sophomore Blake Gardner grabbing a career-high 10.
The Bears averaged 7.2 yards per play (75 for 537) and totaled 25 first downs to UIW’s 12.
UCA played 60 players, including four true freshmen (OL Bryan Manley, WR Jatavious Wilson, DL Terrence Partee, DL Jordan Toliver).
Junior PK Eddie Camara was 7 of 8 on PATs (missed first one) and also made a 42-yard field goal, after making a 37-yarder that was nullified by penalty.
The Bears have been members of the Southland Conference since they moved to Division I FCS in 2006. UCA’s record in SLC games is officially 30-13. The Bears also beat two SLC teams (Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin) in their first year in the league when they did not play a full league schedule.
The Buffaloes are in their third year as members of the Pac-12 after moving from the Big 12. UCA has never faced a team from the Pac-12 in football.
The Bears, who closed the 2012 season ranked 10th in the two national FCS polls, were ranked No. 6 and No. 7 in the FCS preseason polls this summer. UCA moved up to No. 5 in the FCS Coaches Poll this week and remained No. 7 in The Sports Network poll.
UCA will play seven teams this season that were either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason polls. That includes two-time national runnerup Sam Houston State in the regular-season finale on Nov. 23. The Bears also face FBS Colorado on the road in Week 2.
UCA has finished in the Top 25 in four of its seven seasons at the NCAA Division I level.