UNT game-by-game art

North Texas running back DeAndre Torrey (3) avoids a host of Rice defenders in a game at Apogee Stadium last season. Torrey is one of UNT's top returning players.

North Texas built on one of the better runs of success in program history last season, when it played in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

The Mean Green’s game against Appalachian State marked the program’s fourth bowl appearance in five seasons. Unfortunately for UNT, a 56-28 loss to the Mountaineers left the Mean Green with a 4-6 record to end the season.

That mark extended a far-less desirable streak with UNT’s second straight losing season.

A tough schedule will make getting back on the right side of .500 challenging for UNT. The following is a game-by-game rundown:

Sept. 4: Northwestern State

UNT opens the season with a Northwestern State team that finished 1-5 in a spring season. The intriguing storyline of the Mean Green’s season opener will be what the team’s quarterback situation looks like. UNT coach Seth Littrell is expected to pick a starter from the trio of Austin Aune, Jace Ruder and Kason Martin before the season starts. Whoever that starter is will try to solidify the spot in UNT’s opener. There is a chance UNT could play more than one quarterback.

Prediction: UNT 49, Northwestern State 21

Sept. 11: at SMU

Littrell has a chance to earn himself a whole lot of goodwill in Denton in UNT’s first road game of the year. The Mean Green haven’t beaten SMU in Dallas since 1933 and have lost five of the last six games in the series. The Mustangs blew UNT out 65-35 last season and appear to be widening the gap between the programs both on the field and in recruiting. An upset seems unlikely.

Prediction: SMU 41, UNT 31

Sept. 18: UAB

UAB has emerged as one of the most consistent teams in Conference USA. The Blazers have won the C-USA title in two of the last three years and were picked to win the league’s West Division this season. UAB isn’t flashy. The Blazers win behind their terrific defense and a productive running game. UNT will keep it close at home but won’t be able to pull it out.

Prediction: UAB 24, UNT 21

Sept. 25: at Louisiana Tech

This could be the key game of the season for UNT. The Mean Green will be fresh off two tough games against SMU and UAB with three more coming against Missouri, Marshall and Liberty. The season could quickly get away from the Mean Green if they can’t win in Ruston. Louisiana Tech is coming off a 5-5 season. UNT just pulls it out to keep things from going south.

Prediction: UNT 42, Louisiana Tech 40

Oct. 9: at Missouri

UNT heads into its game against Missouri with dreams of pulling off another upset win over an SEC team like it did in 2018, when it knocked off Arkansas. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, Mason Fine is going to make an appearance this time around. The Tigers are too talented across the board for UNT to handle, especially on the road.

Prediction: Missouri 35, UNT 17

Oct. 15: Marshall

Marshall is coming off one of the wildest seasons for a C-USA team in recent memory. The Thundering Herd started the season 7-0 and was ranked No. 15 nationally. It was all downhill from there. Marshall lost its last three games and then parted ways with longtime coach Doc Holliday. Former Alabama assistant Charles Huff took over. There is no telling what Marshall’s team will look like this fall, but the Thundering Herd has a lot of talent.

Prediction: Marshall 27, UNT 24

Oct. 23: Liberty

UNT played the first half of a home-and-home series with Liberty back in 2018, when the Mean Green trounced the Flames 47-7 in a driving rainstorm in Lynchburg, Virginia. A whole lot has changed since then. Liberty is coming off a 10-1 season and might be nationally ranked by the time it comes to Denton. It’s hard to imagine UNT beating the Flames.

Prediction: Liberty 43, UNT 21

Oct. 30: at Rice

UNT emerges from one of the toughest stretches in program history with its backs to the wall at 2-5. The Mean Green know they need to turn their season around in a hurry. Rice has improved over the last few years under Mike Bloomgren, but a battle tested UNT team starts to come together and pulls off a mild upset in Houston.

Prediction: UNT 31, Rice 30

Nov. 6: at Southern Miss

Southern Miss enters its first season under former Tulane offensive coordinator Will Hall this fall. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 3-7 season. Hall might get Southern Miss rolling again at some point, but the Mean Green will be too much for the Golden Eagles to handle. The late roll UNT needs to have a successful season starts to pick up steam.

Prediction: UNT 37, Southern Miss 24

Nov. 13: UTEP

UTEP showed some signs of life last season when it started 3-1 but lost its last four games. UNT barely snuck out a 45-43 win over the Miners in its regular season finale. The win sent the Mean Green back to the postseason. The rematch isn’t nearly as close as UNT continues its late season run.

Prediction: UNT 42, UTEP 14

Nov. 20: at Florida International

UNT enters its game at Florida International on the verge of becoming bowl eligible with six wins. Trips to the East Coast have never been easy for UNT, but the Mean Green manage to pull out a win over the Golden Panthers, who went 0-5 in an abbreviated season last fall.

Prediction: UNT 35, FIU 30

Nov. 27: UTSA

UNT closes the regular season with a game against its biggest rival in C-USA. UNT and UTSA have played a series of consequential games over the years. The Mean Green struggled against the Roadrunners last season in San Antonio and fell 49-17. UTSA added a highly regarded batch of transfers in the offseason and should be at the top of their game by the end of the year.

Prediction: UTSA 30, UNT 23

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

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