Following this post will be the GPP's North Texas/FIU game preview and prediction and of course, Jackie's forecast.
Is the North Texas Mean Green - a leaner, meaner, not so greener version than that which FIU has beaten the past two years by a combined score of 80-29. Let's get an idea.
Here is North Texas beat writer Brett Vito's thoughts on the NT/FIU matchup:
1) How is this UNT team different from the one FIU has handled the previous two seasons?
BV: UNT depends on its running game a lot more than it did the last time these two teams met. Lance Dunbar has emerged as UNT's best player and the Mean Green has one of the more experienced offensive lines in the Sun Belt. Riley Dodge is also a much better running quarterback than Giovanni Vizza.
UNT is still struggling defensively. Not much has changed there.
2) Should the focus of the FIU D be Riley Dodge and Lance Dunbar?
BV: Louisiana-Monroe was able to blow UNT out by keeping Dunbar and UNT's running game contained. Dunbar had just 40 yards, while Dodge had 10. The approach teams are taking against UNT now is to stack eight guys in the box, blitz and make the Mean Green beat you by throwing the ball down the field. That's what Louisiana-Monroe and Troy did.
Riley Dodge does not have the strongest arm and struggles to throw the ball down the field. ULM picked off three passes when UNT tried to throw the ball deep.
3) Is the 2-7 record considered an improvement for the Mean Green or more of the same from last season?
BV: UNT has won two games and had a bunch of other near misses. This team could have won games against Ohio, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana-Lafayette. Considering UNT was blown out in nearly every game last season, it's safe to say this team is better.
4) How does the FIU offense go about attacking the UNT D?
BV: UNT has really struggled lately against good quarterbacks. LaGregory Sapp hung 187 yards and two touchdowns on UNT last week. Troy's Levi Brown threw for 469 yards against the Mean Green.
UNT also has a tough time when people run right at its defensive ends, especially now that middle linebacker Tobe Nwigwe is out and can't take away the cutback lanes.
If I was Mario Cristobal, I would let Paul McCall try to exploit UNT's defensive secondary, especially in one-on-one matchups. I would also try to get FIU's best athletes the ball in space on the edge of UNT's defense.
5) Your game prediction and score?
BV: UNT has to win this game. If it doesn't, it could be looking at a 2-10 season. I picked UNT to go 3-9 this year. I think this is UNT's third win. Give me UNT 31, FIU 24