There will be history made in San Antonio’s Alamodome this Friday. For the first time in its history the UTSA football program will play in a conference championship game. Also historic is the fact that the Roadrunners are hosting the championship game against Western Kentucky.
As far as the Alamodome is concerned this will be the seventh time a conference championship is decided beneath its iconic four spires.
When the San Antonio Spurs resided in the Alamodome they played in three NBA western conference finals. The Spurs lost to Houston in 1995 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001. A win over Portland in 1999 propelled the silver and black to their first NBA Finals appearance.
It turned out 1999 was a good year for conference championships in the Alamodome. That fall, just six months after the Spurs won both the west and the NBA Finals, the Big 12 Championship game came to the Alamodome for a second time. In 1997 the second ever Big 12 Championship game had seen Nebraska beat Texas A&M, 54-15, in the Alamodome. Two years later, in 1999, Nebraska won the Big 12 again, this time with a 22-6 victory over Texas.
Until this Friday the last conference championship game played in the Alamodome came in 2007 when Oklahoma beat Missouri in the Big 12 Championship. Four years later a new tenant came to the Alamodome, the UTSA Roadrunners.
Those of us who have followed or covered the Roadrunners from the beginning in 2011 always thought someday UTSA might get to a conference championship game, but nobody could have predicted how the 2021 Roadrunners made it happen.
This year’s version of the Roadrunners started the season 11-0 and won the west division with a last second touchdown against UAB on Nov. 20. That win allowed UTSA the right to host the Conference USA championship game. Last Saturday the Roadrunners found out their opponent would be Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers won the C-USA East Division with a comeback against Marshall to set up a rematch with the Roadrunners. UTSA beat Western Kentucky in Bowling Green earlier this season. It was the Hilltoppers’ fourth loss in their first five games. They haven’t lost a game since then.
This past weekend UTSA suffered its first loss of the season with a 45-23 setback against North Texas in Denton. Truth be told, since UTSA beat North Texas in Denton back in 2013 that stadium up there has been a house of horrors for the Roadrunners.
While most UTSA fans were hoping the team would be able to go 12-0 there is nothing wrong with being 11-1. UTSA has done in its 11th season what some historic schools have never been able to do with a 100-plus year head start on the Roadrunners.
The journey isn’t over for the Roadrunners. There is the conference championship game on Friday night and then a bowl game at some point later in December. They can still find a way to join an exclusive club of college football teams that won 13 games in a season with a win in the conference championship game and the bowl game.
First things first is the conference championship against Western Kentucky. If UTSA can win that, they will get to lift a non-rivalry trophy for the first time ever. The game is scheduled to kick off a little after 6 p.m. on Friday night. By 9:30 or 10 p.m. the world will know whether or not UTSA can add another glorious chapter to this amazing season.
Regardless of whether it’s UTSA or WKU who win on Friday night one thing is certain, another champion will be crowned in the Alamodome. Here’s hoping it is UTSA that gets crowned.