gtpdd’s North Texas Preview
Tomorrow night at 6:30 PM Central, the Bulldogs take on the North Texas Mean Green in Denton, Texas. But before you watch the game, you need to know a few things. That’s where we come in!
How to Watch
This game is airing on beIN Sports, which is a totally real thing I didn’t just make up. Apparently this network used to be on DirecTV and some cable providers, but they all dropped it this past offseason. You’d think the marquee matchup of the C-USA Western Division would maybe be on TV somewhere, right? Maybe that’s too much to ask. Luckily for us Tech fans, you can watch this game on something called FuboTV (again, not something I made up), which you can get a 7-day free trial of here. Just remember to cancel that bad boy after the game.
Other People’s Predictions
- ESPN FPI: UNT has a 78.4% chance to win
- Massey: UNT wins, 35-31
- Vegas (OddsShark): UNT will win by 7.5 points
- BleedTechBlue: Tech wins, 42-27
- S&P+: UNT wins, 39-25
- Brett Vito, Denton Record Chronicle: UNT wins, 35-24
The Mean Green come into today’s game having won four straight games to open the season. They’ve beaten SMU, Liberty, Arkansas, and something called Incarnate Word. Since those are all schools with some sort of religious affiliation (Go to an Arkansas game and tell me their chanting and arm waving isn’t a religious affair), I’m going to assume North Texas is actually the Devil. Tech comes into the game following its first loss of the season. Apparently two packs of Jaguars weren’t enough to stop the Dogs, but some Tigers got the job done.
What to Watch For
In this game, I’m most excited to see how Tech’s receivers (and passing game in general) look against North Texas’s defensive backfield. The Mean Green defense has looked good in 2018 so far, but they haven’t faced an offense like Tech’s yet (more on that later). Last week in Baton Rouge served as Tech WR Adrian Hardy’s arrival to the spotlight. The Sophomore wideout caught 11 passes for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns, and that was with definite future-NFL players covering him all night. I expect that Hardy will be J’Mar’s #1 target for the rest of the season, because the dude is just an absolute stud out there.
Despite my confidence in Hardy’s emergence as a star player out wide, North Texas boasts some pretty good stats in their defensive backfield this year. They’ve got three players with three interceptions already: Kemon Hall, Khairi Muhammed, and Nate Brooks. These guys just seem to have a nose for the ball. The Mean Green are also only allowing 209 passing yards per game so far, which is pretty decent.
However, the quality of competition UNT has faced sort of skews the data in their favor, so I took a look at some S&P+ numbers to try to see how we might truly match up against them. S&P+ is a metric created by SBNation’s Bill Connelly and it specifically tries to adjust stats to account for quality of competition. So instead of just looking at the Yards per game allowed, it accounts for the fact that Arkansas is a dumpster fire right now.
Here’s what I found interesting: North Texas’s 3 FBS opponents’ passing attacks were Not Good. Even Liberty, who is putting up decent yards, is not a highly rated offense in the S&P+ system.
|School||Passing Offense (ranking)||S&P+ Offensive Ranking (takes into account the quality of opponent’s defense)|
|SMU||184.5 ypg (104th)||104th|
|Arkansas||210.5 ypg (83rd)||101st|
|Liberty||294 ypg (25th)||91st|
|Louisiana Tech||322 ypg (14th)||37th|
Basically, what this table shows is that, when adjusted for competition, the offenses North Texas has faced thus far have been lower-tier FBS teams (and that’s not even considering Incarnate Word). In other related news, North Texas’s passing offense is ranked 12th in terms of simple yards per game, but 62nd in the S&P+ rankings. Although North Texas’s defense may seem really good, Tech put up 417 yards on the 10th ranked S&P+ defense in the nation, and that’s more impressive than anything UNT has done this year at all, except maybe the fake fair catch TD.
The University of North Texas already has a fairly confusing nickname situation. Way back in 1922, the school decided to use the American Eagle as its mascot. This has pretty much endured from then until now. Of course, the “Mean Green” moniker doesn’t mention anything about Eagles, but that’s okay. That’s not what I’m here to talk about.
You see, back in 2004, some North Texas students formed a chapter of the Albino Squirrel Preservation Society (ASPS) in honor of several albino squirrels that made their home on campus in Denton. The first albino squirrel, Thelonious, passed away sometime in the early 2000s, and students wanted to commemorate him by forming the ASPS. Students at the time even pushed to make another albino squirrel, named “Baby”, the official second mascot of North Texas. That push was unsuccessful, but Baby the squirrel was beloved by all. That is, until she was murdered in broad daylight by a red-tailed hawk.
From the UNT press release (seriously) about Baby’s death: “The Albino Squirrel informally known as Baby, who enjoyed a good two years on campus between the University Union and Scoular Hall, died Aug. 21  in an unfortunate encounter with a red-tailed hawk.”
According to other sources, nearby students threw rocks at the hawk and stopped Baby from being carried off. That night, students outside of the Willis Library erected a makeshift monument:
To this day, the Cyber Cafe inside of the library uses an albino squirrel as its unofficial mascot, and serves a drink called the Albino Squirrel (coffee and white chocolate). The UNT Library System’s Instagram page is currently running a campaign using an Albino Squirrel mascot named Willis. If you look at their feed since August 21, 2017 (when the campaign started), 133 of 167 posts have been of Willis the Albino Squirrel. May Baby, Thelonius, and Lucky (who died tragically in 2016) rest in peace.
Evan: UNT is not that good and we will beat them handily.
Josh: J’Mar will not throw an interception the entire game.
Daniel A: Tech will have more sacks than Fine has touchdown passes.
Matt: UNT will win by 28 or more, J’Mar will be benched in favor of Elliot, who will then immediately throw a pick 6. The BBB will riot and join Black Lives Matter while burning an effigy of Hunter Lee.
Nathan: J’Mar will have a great game, but Tech will lose. People will want J’Mar benched for some reason.
Evan: As I stated above, I think Tech’s passing offense will be able to shine in this game. With that being said, we’ll have to run the ball effectively to win big. Dancy got hurt last week and I’m not sure if he’ll be playing tomorrow night. Without him, running the rock will be tough. UNT hasn’t played a defense like ours. We’ve got a shutdown corner. We’ve got the Young Sack Lord. We’re going to win tomorrow.
Tech wins, 41-27
Josh: I think this one comes down to whoever’s offense is more efficient. North Texas looks to have a very good defense and being able to score consistently on them is what it will take to win. I’m confident enough in the defense to slow down Mason Fine and Co., but the defense can only do so much if they’re constantly on the field. As long as J’Mar takes care of the ball and the offense doesn’t go three and out for many possessions, Tech should be able to win this game.
Tech wins, 34-28
Daniel A: Tech will continue to improve, as they have in each game so far this season.
Tech wins, 31-28
Matt: If Tech wins, we’ll all say:
UNT wins, 35-17
Nathan: I believe North Texas is the best team in C-USA. Maybe if this game was in Ruston, things would be different, but for the first time all year, I’m picking the other team to win.
UNT wins, 35-28