Game-by-Game UNT predictions

North Texas will look to bounce back from a 4-8 season and return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus this fall.

 North Texas was on quite a roll heading into a season filled with high expectations at year ago.

The Mean Green had played in bowl games in three straight seasons, posted back-to-back nine-win campaigns and had one of the best players in program history returning in quarterback Mason Fine.

UNT fell apart in stunning fashion and finished 4-8.

The question now for the Mean Green is how they rebound with a revamped team. UNT has five new assistant coaches and a largely remade roster.

We have already gone on record with our season record prediction of 6-6.

How did we get there?

Here’s our annual game-by-game rundown.

Saturday: Houston Baptist at UNT

This game is a lot trickier than it looks on paper for UNT. The Mean Green must replace Fine and have a new defensive coordinator in Clint Bowen. Houston Baptist nearly upset UTEP, another Conference USA team, last season before the Miners hung on for 36-34 win. The Mean Green will win, but it will be interesting for a bit.

Prediction: UNT 30, Houston Baptist 17

Sept 19: SMU at UNT

There isn’t a more important game to UNT’s fans than the Mean Green’s annual showdown with its bitter rival to the south. This year’s game looms particularly large. SMU has won four of the last five meetings and hammered UNT 49-27 last season in Dallas to extend its lead in the series to 32-6-1. UNT’s best hope against SMU has always been games in Denton, where the Mean Green are 4-1. UNT will be a huge underdog but will find some Mean Green magic at Apogee Stadium.

Prediction: UNT 31, SMU 30

Sept. 26: UNT at Houston

UNT caught Houston last season at what looked like the perfect time to pull the upset. D’Eriq King and a host of other key Houston players announced that they would sit out the season and redshirt after a 1-3 start. It didn’t matter. The Cougars raced to a 46-25 win. UNT won’t have any better luck in Houston.

Prediction: Houston 30, UNT 20

Oct. 3: Southern Miss at UNT

Southern Miss has been hit hard by players opting out of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Star linebacker Racheem Boothe, defensive end Jacques Turner and running back Steven Anderson have all opted out and said they will transfer. Those losses will hamper Southern Miss, and UNT should start to find its groove a few weeks into the season.

Prediction: UNT 35, Southern Miss 33

Oct. 10: Charlotte at UNT

Charlotte stunned UNT 39-38 last season on Victor Tucker’s 34-touchdown catch with 18 seconds left. The win was one of the highlights of a breakout season for the 49ers. The Mean Green will be out for revenge. The problem is Charlotte has a host of key players back and is a team on the rise in C-USA.

Prediction: Charlotte 27, UNT 21

Oct. 17: North Texas at Middle Tennessee

UNT didn’t win a single road game last season and needed a last-second field goal to beat the Blue Raiders at Apogee. Asher O’Hara was one of the best quarterbacks in C-USA last fall. He’ll have a little less around him after transfer running backs Amir Rasul and Martell Pettaway opted out of the season, but the Blue Raiders will have enough to slip past UNT.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee 35, UNT 27

Oct. 31: North Texas at UTEP

UTEP lost 11 straight games after beating Houston Baptist last season and has dropped 11 straight C-USA games dating back to the 2018 season. UNT narrowly escaped with a 27-24 win in its last trip to El Paso two years ago. The Mean Green will have a much easier trip this time around.

Prediction: UNT 40, UTEP 14

Nov. 7: Louisiana Tech at UNT

Louisiana Tech has been remarkably consistent under Skip Holtz and has won a bowl game in six straight seasons. The Bulldogs lost a host of key players after last season, including two defensive backs who were drafted in Amik Robertson and L’Jarius Sneed. The Bulldogs just seem to reload and will be too much for UNT to handle, even at home.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech 24, UNT 21

Nov. 14: UNT at UAB

UAB has won C-USA’s West Division in each of the last two seasons and is the favorite to make it three in a row this fall behind head coach Bill Clark. The Blazers return 19 starters and have one of the best defenses in the league. UAB allowed 18.8 points per game in league play in 2019. UNT won’t be able to pull off the upset in Birmingham.

Prediction: UAB 30, UNT 20

Nov. 21: Rice at UNT

UNT faced a must-win situation last season at Rice. The Mean Green were 4-6 heading into the game and needed to beat the Owls to have a chance to become bowl eligible in its regular season finale at home against UAB. UNT came up short in a 20-14 loss. The Mean Green will find themselves in a similar spot at 4-5 heading into their game against Rice. This time, UNT gets it done.

Prediction: UNT 27, Rice 21

Nov. 28: UNT at UTSA

UNT heads into its biggest rivalry game in C-USA with a chance to finish above .500 for the regular season and solidify a bowl berth with a win. UTSA is in its first season under Jeff Traylor. The series between the teams has been filled with thrillers. UNT wins another in the Alamodome.

Prediction: UNT 30, UTSA 28

TBD: Bowl game

UNT returns to the postseason after a one-year hiatus and once again has no luck when it comes to postseason matchups. The Mean Green faced Utah State when the Aggies had Jordan Love in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl and Troy when it was loaded in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl. The Mean Green land in the Armed Forces Bowl because there is a great chance the school will bring a big crowd. UNT does and is drilled by Kansas State.

Prediction: Kansas State 42, UNT 17

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

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