"Actually, I'm very surprised," Blackmon said. "Coming up through high school, my freshman through junior years, they weren't a big school, especially football-wise. To see them progress into the team they are today, I think it'll be fun to go against those guys on Saturday."
When the Roadrunners can face a team outside BCS automatic qualifier conferences, they perform well. Their two wins this year came against UTEP and the Mountain West Conference's New Mexico. Stepping up in competition hasn't been so fruitful. UTSA has lost by at least three touchdowns to Oklahoma State, Arizona and Houston and allowed an average of 51 points in those three losses.
The latest setback was a 59-28 loss to Houston where the Roadrunners were outscored 28-0 in the fourth quarter. Those three losses did come against three teams all in the FBS' top 40 in scoring. The Herd presents a different challenge. Marshall's isn't an AQ-conference member, but it does know how to score, tied for 27th in the FBS averaging 39.8 points per game.
UTSA Coach Larry Coker had high praise for Marshall's offense, especially quarterback Rakeem Cato, who he considers an NFL player.
"I think it is size and arm strength," Coker said of the 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback during his weekly press conference. "He's a good passer. You could tell he's a sharp young man and throws catchable balls. He knows his stuff and he's experienced."
The Herd isn't using the Houston game to dismiss the challenge UTSA could present. The UTEP win proved the Roadrunners can compete in Conference USA, and with the Herd's designs on a conference title, center Chris Jasperse said every C-USA game is crucial.
"Now the wins count twice," Jasperse said. "You get one in the win column overall and one in Conference USA. It's two-for-one now. It's time to go."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.