1. University of Texas at San Antonio
UTSA is new to the college football scene, having just founded its program in 2011. The Roadrunners are a program on the rise and have a number of advantages in terms of resources, geography, and support over their fellow mid-major peers.
The Roadrunners capitalized on many of these advantages in 2021 and 2022, going a combined 23-5 and winning back-to-back Conference USA titles. UTSA parlayed that success in part to a move to the American Athletic Conference, and it began league play 7-0 before a road loss to defending AAC champion Tulane last week.
San Antonio is a decently sized city in the middle of football country — the Lone Star state — and the recruiting benefits that come in this area. There also aren’t other major football programs that can dominate South Texas in high school recruiting the same way that UTSA can, as the Longhorns reside a distant 80 miles away to the northeast and teams like Texas State (in San Marcos) are struggling.
UTSA became only the second C-USA program to break into the College Football Playoff rankings in 2021 and 2022, and it has a ton of potential for a power conference. In its short history and with its Group of Five status, UTSA has already beaten teams from the Big Ten (Illinois) and the Big 12 (Baylor) recently.
If the Big 12 doesn’t look to UTSA to bolster its presence in Texas (along with new-ish and new additions in TCU and Houston), the Pac-12 or ACC would stand to gain a lot by adding the Roadrunners.