North Texas players take the field before a loss to Southern Miss on Oct. 18. UNT has won two games and will look to add to that total in its final four games (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)
It’s been tough sledding for UNT this year, needless to say. The Mean Green can’t seem to find a quarterback and have lost four straight.
Linebacker Derek Akunne said after the Mean Green’s loss to Rice last week that UNT isn’t going to give up on its yearly baseline goal to “Hit Six” — that somewhat nifty slogan that made its way into the program’s vernacular last fall. Quarterback Andrew McNulty and wide receiver Carlos Harris expressed similar sentiments.
Technically, UNT still has a shot to win six games, even now at 2-6.
Since this is typically the time of the week we spent a whole lot of time on the blog talking about the upcoming game and there isn’t one this week, let’s take a look at UNT’s four remaining games, where those teams stand.
Florida Atlantic (at UNT Nov. 8) — The Owls have been all over the place since being run by Nebraska and Alabama to start the season and sit at 3-5 heading into a game against UAB. If FAU can pull that one out, it would be 4-5 coming to UNT with a real shot of getting to six wins. FAU might be better than its record considering it also lost to Marshall, giving the Owls three losses against ranked teams. FAU has a competent quarterback in Jaquez Johnson, who has 1,502 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception.
This game will also mark the return of standout UNT linebacker Chris Hurd, who played for the Mean Green during the Miracle Bowl Run of 2001-04 when UNT went to four straight bowls and won 26 straight conference games before the Mean Green had a new stadium, an athletic center, new academic center or much of anything else to work with other than a bunch of really good football players. Hurd was one of them.
FAU’s game against UAB will be one to watch for UNT. If the Owls can win that one, UNT’s next game suddenly looks a lot tougher against a team with something to play for.
UTEP (in El Paso Nov. 15) — When the C-USA season began, no team was expected to be worse than UTEP. The Miners were picked last in the league’s West Division and received fewer points than any team in the league in the poll.
Then a funny thing happened. UTEP found a quarterback. Jameill Showers isn’t putting up huge numbers, but he isn’t killing the Miners, either. UTEP has a balanced offense and has won its last two games over Old Dominion and UTSA after being curb stomped by Louisiana Tech to open conference play.
The Miners should be able to take down Southern Miss this week before taking on Western Kentucky. The way this sets up could have UNT heading to El Paso with UTEP either looking to wrap up a bowl bid or trying to get there.
It will be another tough game for UNT.
Florida International (at UNT Nov. 22) — At this point, this one looks like it could be between a couple of teams officially out of bowl contention. UNT has to win out and hasn’t won consecutive games all year.
FIU has to win three of its last four games and has Rice and Middle Tennessee coming up before its final game of the season at UNT. FIU has lost two straight and will face UNT in its final home game.
This will be UNT’s annual Senior Bowl game. I know some people question the whole production. For those of you haven’t been following along, UNT has a cheap trophy. If UNT wins, the seniors get their picture up in the football offices with the trophy for the whole next year.
If UNT loses, the trophy gets put up for the year and everyone walks away in shame, or something like that. UNT is 2-1 in the game, for the record.
If it works …
The game could be UNT’s best chance for a win the rest of the way.
UTSA (in San Antonio Nov. 29) — When this game was played in Denton last year, we dubbed it the Mean Green Fans Wing Zone Green Kool-aid Suicide Pact Game. We feared at a large number of UNT fans would be tempted to leave this mortal coil if UNT lost to the college football newbies in its 100th anniversary season.
UNT did lose, but by then was well on its way to a bowl game, negating some of the angst about it.
UTSA has struggled just as much as UNT this year and is pretty much toast at 2-6 just like the Mean Green. The hard part of UTSA is this was supposed to be the Roadrunners’ year with a senior-laden roster.
This could be a pride deal for both teams, and a good chance for a season-ending win for UNT.