One of the challenges North Texas faces as it looks to bounce back from a 4-8 season is a difficult schedule.
The Mean Green will tackle Texas A&M on the road, SMU at home and travel to Houston.
Games against Power Five teams like Texas A&M are a big hill to climb for UNT. The Mean Green also lost to SMU and Houston last season in games that weren't particularly close.
It all adds up to a tough road for UNT.
We break it all down today in our annual way-too-early look at the schedule.
UNT 2020 schedule
Sept. 5 — Houston Baptist
Sept. 12 — at Texas A&M
Sept. 19 — SMU
Sept. 26 — at Houston
Oct. 3 — Southern Miss
Oct. 10 — Charlotte
Oct. 17 — at Middle Tennessee
Oct. 31 — at UTEP
Nov. 7 — Louisiana Tech
Nov. 14 — at UAB
Nov. 21 — Rice
Nov. 28 — at UTSA
Biggest nonconference game: vs. SMU, Sept. 19
The biggest nonconference game of the year never changes when it comes to UNT. It's SMU. It's not even a question.
There are a host of reasons that is the case. The UNT faithful have always felt like their private school neighbors to the south look down on them and avoided playing them on a regular basis before the series was revived in 2014.
Former UNT coach Matt Simon once said he would play SMU any time, anywhere, including a Safeway parking lot. George Dunham, the longtime voice of the Mean Green, once went on an epic rant on how he and a lot of UNT supporters feel about SMU.
"If they were playing Russia State, I would root for Russia State to beat them by four touchdowns," Dunham said.
You get the idea.
SMU leads the all-time series 32-6-1, but it's gotten closer over the last few years. The Mustangs hold a 6-4 lead in the last 10 games.
A UNT win makes everything look a whole lot more even of late. If SMU wins, it will have taken five of the last six games.
Seeing SMU continue to tighten its grip on the rivalry would be tough for UNT fans to swallow.
Game UNT should win, but might not: Charlotte, Oct. 10
Charlotte played its first game as a program in 2013 and quickly moved up to join the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA.
One would think that with such a huge head start, UNT would have the upper hand.
That didn't turn out to be the case in the teams' first meeting last season. The 49ers rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and won 39-38 on Chris Reynolds' 34-yard touchdown pass to Victor Tucker with 18 seconds left.
UNT will have plenty of motivation to avenge that loss and an advantage at home.
Exacting revenge won't be easy, though. Charlotte has most of its lineup back and added Northern Illinois running back and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Tre Harbison as a graduate transfer.
Game UNT shouldn't win, but might: at UAB, Nov. 14
UNT will be thrown to the fire early this fall.
The hope is the Mean Green will grow from the experience they gain in games against Texas A&M, SMU and Houston and will be able to make a run at a bowl game in C-USA play.
UAB won the C-USA West Division last season before running into Florida Atlantic. Lane Kiffin and the Owls blew out the Blazers in the conference title game.
UAB will be loaded again next year, but there is a chance some of the highly rated recruits UNT has brought in the last two years will have settled in by the time the Mean Green travel to Birmingham.
If they do, UNT might be capable of pulling off the upset.