Southern Miss at UNT, 6 p.m. Saturday, Apogee Stadium, Denton
Records: North Texas 2-4, 0-2 C-USA; Southern Miss 2-4, 0-2 C-USA
TV: American Sports Network: Ron Thulin (play-by-play), Keith Moreland (analyst), Evan Nemec (sidelines)
Radio: KHYI-FM 95.3, KNTU-FM 88.1, KGAF-AM 1580
On the line: UNT’s chances of playing in a second consecutive bowl game have taken a bit of a hit the last couple of weeks when the Mean Green lost consecutive games at Indiana and UAB. UNT fell to 0-2 in Conference USA play last week with its loss to the Blazers, a set back that was particularly costly. UNT’s hopes of making a run at the C-USA West Division title are dim at best now, especially considering one of its losses came against Louisiana Tech, which appears to be the odds-on favorite after jumping out to a 2-0 start in league play. The Bulldogs have the tiebreaker over UNT in addition to a two-game lead. What the Mean Green are hoping now is that they can make a late run at becoming bowl-eligible with six wins, a goal that is still well within the realm of possibility. UAB is in essentially the same position with a 2-4 overall record and an 0-2 mark in league play. The Golden Eagles have a brutal schedule coming up after their game against UNT with games against C-USA division leaders Louisiana Tech and Marshall coming up with a game at UTEP in between. Saturday’s game could be Southern Miss’ best shot for a win for a while.
When North Texas has the ball: The UNT quarterback carousel continued to spin this week with the Mean Green taking a long look in practice at both Dajon Williams and Andrew McNulty. UNT started the year with JUCO transfer Josh Greer as its starter and stuck with him for three games before turning to Williams, a redshirt freshman, for three games. McNulty has played well off the bench this season, but has started one game his entire career, and that was back in 2011. No matter who is under center, UNT will be content to hammer away in the running game, if it has the opportunity. Southern Miss ranks 12th in C-USA with an average of 246.0 rushing yards allowed a game. Antoinne Jimmerson rushed for 104 yards last week in UNT’s loss to UAB and rolled up 83 yards against Indiana in the Mean Green’s previous game.
When Southern Miss has the ball: The Golden Eagles have come on late in the season offensively and had one of their best games in their last outing, a 37-31 loss to Middle Tennessee. The Golden Eagles not only posted a season-high point total, they also rolled up a season-high 537 yards. Nick Mullens threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Eagles in his best game of the year. UNT has struggled in pass defense all year and has given up seven passing touchdowns in its two C-USA games. UNT also didn’t force a turnover in its loss to the Blazers, ending a 21 straight games in which the Mean Green have posted at least one takeaway.The lone turnover UNT forced against Indiana came on special teams.
Prediction: UNT is in an even more dire situation heading into its game against Southern Miss than it was a week ago against UAB. The realistic goal for UNT now is to become bowl-eligible with six wins. The Mean Green face a long road to get there and really need to take the first step this weekend at home, where UNT is typically very tough to beat. There is some question about who will start at quarterback, but no matter who UNT rolls out there, he will spend a lot of time handing the ball off to Jimmerson, who is coming on late in the season, and the rest of the Mean Green’s running backs. UNT will give up some plays in the passing game like it has all season, but will make just enough plays to win.
UNT 27, Southern Miss 24