TV: Longhorn Network; Kevin Dunn (play-by-play), Ahmad Brooks (analyst), Sean Adams (sideline)
Radio: KHYI-FM 95.3, KNTU-FM 88.1, KGAF-AM 1580; Sirius 117
On the line: North Texas will have a chance to shock the world when it heads down to Austin to take on the Longhorns in the season-opener for both teams. UNT has faced Texas nine times in the series and never won a game. A win over the Longhorns would rank as the most important victory in school history and give the Mean Green even more momentum following last season’s 9-4 finish that included a win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Texas is looking to get off to a good start under new head coach Charlie Strong. The former Louisville coach is working to establish a new culture within the program and has already dismissed more than a half dozen players. A win would give Texas something new to focus on and will be looked at as an early sign Strong has the Longhorns headed in the right direction. A loss would be a disastrous blow for Texas.
When North Texas has the ball: There is no secret when it comes to what UNT will do offensively. The Mean Green’s identity is based largely on its ability to run the ball and be physical on offense. UNT has four starters back on its offensive line, including preseason All-Conference USA guards Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo. UNT will line up and try to run it right at Texas with Reggie Pegram and Antoinne Jimmerson, especially with JUCO transfer Josh Greer making his debut at quarterback. If UNT can be effective running the ball, it will open up opportunities for Greer in the passing game.
When Texas has the ball: Quarterback David Ash will return after missing all but three games last season with a concussion. The Longhorns will look to take pressure off Ash and ease him back into the lineup by leaning on a pair of standout running backs in Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown. UNT head coach Dan McCarney spoke about both in glowing terms in his Monday press conference. The Mean Green are undersized up front and lost six of their seven starters in their defensive front seven to graduation after last season. New Texas coach Charlie Strong wants to run the ball and be physical. Expect the Longhorns to try to pound UNT into submission.
Prediction: UNT seemed to turn a corner last season under Dan McCarney and hung with Georgia into the third quarter in its last game against a major conference team. Texas doesn’t have a squad to match the 2013 Bulldogs, but UNT doesn’t have the team it did a year ago either after a host of key players graduated. While Mean Green doesn’t have the talent it did a year ago, they believe the impact a breakout season had on the program remains. That change will help UNT hang with Texas early on, but the Longhorns overall talent will eventually be too much for the Mean Green to overcome
Texas 31, North Texas 17