I just finished up writing my column for tomorrow’s paper that looks at Conference USA now that UNT is about to begin league play.
My quick take — Things are going to be awfully interesting. Most people have gone into full homer mode for a couple of reasons, and they are good ones:
– Some smart scheduling, good coaching and a break or two has UNT at 2-2, which by recent standards is a pretty stupendous record four weeks into it. UNT bought a win by bringing in Idaho and scheduled Ball State on a Texas afternoon. The Cardinals baked like the Thanksgiving bird on the visitor sideline and wilted in the heat. UNT then went to Georgia the week before the Bulldogs faced LSU. UNT got a whole lot of positive publicity for hanging in until the third quarter.
– C-USA doesn’t exactly look like the SEC this year. Rice doesn’t look as good as expected, neither does Tulsa or Louisiana Tech. The Owls barely got past Florida Atlantic.
UNT could contend for those reasons.
One other fact to keep in mind: While some C-USA teams might not be as good as we thought they would be, a few might be better than anticipated. Tulane — the team UNT opens league play with on Saturday — is one of them. The Green Wave beat Louisiana Tech and hammered Louisiana-Monroe, UNT’s old Sun Belt rival that pummeled the Mean Green 42-16 a year ago. Tulane took down the Warhawks 31-14.
UNT could very well take down Tulane, but two aspects about the game give me pause — 1. It’s on the road and 2. Tulsa has a stud receiver in Ryan Grant.
UNT is terrible, and I do mean terrible, on the road and also struggles against good receivers and good passing offenses.
The Mean Green will have to break those trends on Saturday.
And in the non-football realm, both the UNT soccer and volleyball teams won today. The UNT volleyball team beat Middle Tennessee in four games, while the soccer team edged Louisiana Tech 1-0.