North Texas will open Conference USA play today at Rice.
There is a lot riding on this game for a pair of teams looking to turn their seasons around.
UNT is 1-2 with its lone win coming over FCS Bethune-Cookman. Rice is an even worse spot at 0-3 with a conference loss to Western Kentucky already in the books.
A win today for UNT would give the Mean Green a whole lot of momentum heading into a tough stretch of games against Middle Tennessee and Marshall at home followed by a game at Army. A loss leaves UNT at 1-3 and in a world of hurt.
Rice has already played the toughest part of its schedule with games against Army and Baylor in addition to WKU. A win today gives the Owls hope that they can make a run at becoming bowl-eligible with six wins.
UNT is riding a 14-game losing streak in road games dating back to the 2013 season.
The key to ending that streak will be getting something going on offense and stopping Rice’s running game. The Mean Green were shut last week in a loss to Florida and also struggled at times in their season-opening loss to SMU.
Stopping Rice’s running game will be equally important. The Owls are averaging 143.7 yards a game, despite facing a tough early-season slate.
Stay tuned. I will update the blog all night.
4:39 — There are no scratches of note tonight for UNT. The Mean Green are pretty healthy considering they played at Florida last week.
4:55 — It looks like attendance is going to be pretty horrible tonight. There are quite a few UNT fans who made the trip.
Kickoff — Rice won the toss, received and will start at its 25-yard line.
9:31 — Rice drove deep into UNT;s end of the field, but Nate Brooks made a key play on third down to force a sack. Rice still cashed in with a field goal is up 3-0.
8:38 — UNT went three-and-out on its first possession. Rice has the ball back at its 23-yard line. The Mean Green had a drop on that possession. Elex Woodworth started at tackle for UNT.
3:17 — Rice has just scored the game’s first touchdown on a crossing pattern to Lance Wright from 14 yards out. Rice is up 14-0 and has been on the field for 26 plays. UNT has run just three. The Owls are up 10-0.
2:21 — Rice just called a timeout after sacking Mason Fine for a 10-yard loss. UNT is facing a third-and-22 situation.
1:24 — Rice has the ball back at its 38.
End of the first quarter — UNT is down 10-0 at the end of the first quarter and Rice is driving. The Owls have the ball at the UNT 23-yard line. Rice has a 157 to minus-17 yard edge
13:02 — Rice has extended its lead to 17-0 on a 1-yard run from Emmanuel Esukpa. UNT had held Rice to a field goal, but was offside. Rice got a first down and the touchdown.
10:28 — UNT is on the board., Mason Fine threw his first career touchdown pass, a 16-yard strike to Willie Ivery. UNT converted two key third downs on its last drive and now trails 17-7.
9:11 — UNT has made a big play to cut short a Rice drive. Joshua Wheeler recovered a Rice fumble at the UNT 41-yard line. Rice still leads 17-7.
7:46 — UNT was just stuffed on a fourht-and-1 run at midfield. Rice has the ball back.
6:41 — UNT’s defense made a key stand after the Mean Green turned the ball over at midfield. The Mean Green have the ball back at their 20.
4:31 — Rice has forced a turnover in UNT’s end of the field. Mason Fine fumbled. Rice has the ball at the UNT 33.
2:31 — UNT’s defense has come up with a big stop in its own end of the field. Kishawn McClain intercepted a Stehling pass. UNT immediately came up with a 75-yard pass to Kenny Buyers and has the ball at the Rice 7.
:45 — UNT has bunched the ball in from a yard out on a Jeffrey Wilson run. UNT has cut its deficit to 17-14 late in the first half.
:30 — Rice completed a deep pass to UNT’s 37, but fumbled the ball. UNT has the ball back after a challenge.
Halftime — UNT couldn’t get anything going on the few seconds its had left following Rice’s turnover. The Mean Green will head to halftime trailing 17-14.
Second half — UNT has the ball to start the second half at the 41.
12:47 — UNT had a touchdown pass called back on a hold and had to punt. Rice has the ball back after a UNT punt at its 21.
9:55 — UNT was forced to punt on its last possession. Rice has the ball back at its 28-yard line.
7:35 — Rice has tacked on a field goal and leads 20-14.
7:27 — UNT has its first lead of the game after Jeffrey Wilson broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run on a run to the perimeter. UNT leads 21-20.
11:15 — UNT has the ball back at its 14-yard line after a Rice punt. The Mean Green lead 21-20.
4:37 — UNT will have the ball back at its 25-yard line after Rice had to punt the ball away on its last possession.
7:31 — UNT has extended its lead to 28-20 on a 1-yard run by Willie Ivery.
2:34 — And we are all tied up. Rice has scored and hit on a two-point conversion to tie the game up at 28-28.
:34 — UNT has punted the ball away. Rice has its at its 19.
Overtime — UNT has won the toss and will be on defense to start the overtime period].
Rice is up 35-28 after Darik Dillard scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. UNT needs a touchdown here to keep the game going.
UNT has answered with a Jeffrey Wilson 5-yard touchdown run. We are headed to a second overtime.
UNT has the ball first-and-10 from the Rice 13 and just called a timeout.
UNT has gone up 42-35 thanks largely to a roughing the passer call on Rice when the Owls had UNT stopped on third down.
UNT stopped Darik Dillard on a fourth-and-1 from the 16-yard line. UNT wins 42-35.