UNT-Rice five thoughts

North Texas linebacker K.D. Davis (23) sacks Rice quarterback Mike Collins during UNT's 27-17 win on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas knocked off Rice 27-17 on Saturday at Apogee Stadium. The Mean Green improved to 3-3 on the season and 2-2 in Conference USA play.

Rice fell to 1-2 overall and in C-USA play.

Here are five thoughts on UNT's win.

1. UNT showed a lot of fortitude

There were a host of factors that pointed to the Mean Green struggling in their game against the Owls.

UNT had been off for 34 days due to three games being postponed or called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eight players were out due to a host of reasons, including coronavirus infections, contact tracing concerns and injuries.

UNT then proceeded to fall behind 10-0. The Mean Green came to life at that point and rallied for the win.

The performance showed that UNT has the mental fortitude coach Seth Littrell is looking for.

2. UNT's defense is figuring it out

UNT followed up a solid second half defensively in its win over Middle Tennessee with a great overall performance against Rice.

The Mean Green dominated the line of scrimmage after a slow start and allowed just seven points in the final three quarters.

The move with Gabriel Murphy and Grayson Murphy playing significant time at defensive end continues to pay dividends. Grayson posted 2.0 sacks, while Gabriel added another 1.5 on a night UNT finished with seven in all.

Defensive tackle Dion Novil was terrific on his way to finishing with five tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles.

3. Jason Bean continues to make plays

One of the biggest plays of the night for UNT was Jason Bean's 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

UNT was down 10-0 before Bean broke free and got UNT on track. He also threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaelon Darden.

Those plays were huge in UNT's win.

4. UNT's game at UTSA is interesting now

UNT isn't out of the C-USA West Division race as long as it keeps on winning. The challenge will continue next week when the Mean Green head to San Antonio to take on a surging UTSA team.

The Roadrunners are 6-4 on the season and 4-2 in C-USA play. The game is always big for both schools and looks even bigger now.

5. One has to wonder if this was UNT's last home game

UNT honored its seniors before its game against Rice.

The move makes sense when one considers how this season has progressed. There is no guarantee UNT will take the field again at Apogee.

The Mean Green's only remaining home game is slated for Dec. 3 against Louisiana Tech. Both teams have suffered a series of postponements and cancelations this year.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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