North Texas at Louisiana Tech
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, Louisiana
Records: UNT 1-2, 0-1 Conference USA; Louisiana Tech 1-2, 0-0 Conference USA
Last week: UAB 40, UNT 6; SMU 39, Louisiana Tech 37
Last meeting: Louisiana Tech 42, UNT 31 (2020)
What’s on the line?
UNT was blown out in its conference opener against UAB last week at home can’t afford to find itself buried at the bottom of the C-USA West Division standings at 0-2 after the first two weeks of league play.
The Mean Green knew heading into the season that a run of six straight games against teams that either played in bowl games or qualified for one that was canceled due to the COIVD-19 pandemic in 2020 would determine how their season turns out.
UNT lost the first two of those games to SMU and UAB. The Mean Green have a game at Missouri followed by home dates with Marshall and Liberty after its game against Louisiana Tech.
UNT’s game against Louisiana Tech looks like the most winnable of the remaining four. The Mean Green must capitalize.
Louisiana Tech is coming off a heartbreaking loss to SMU on a last second touchdown pass. The Bulldogs were also beaten at the gun by Mississippi State. Louisiana Tech has a chance to start over in C-USA play.
When UNT has the ball
UNT is coming off its worst offensive outing since it was shut out at Florida in 2016, Seth Littrell’s debut season as the Mean Green’s coach.
UAB was able to shut UNT’s running game down despite dropping eight men into coverage most of the night. Littrell mentioned after the game that UNT was beaten at the line of scrimmage even with UAB daring the Mean Green to run the ball.
UNT managed just 220 total yards, including 99 passing yards. Running back DeAndre Torrey rushed for 82 yards and was by far UNT’s most effective weapon.
UNT is averaging 20.7 points per game behind Torrey, who had 397 rushing yards on the year.
The Mean Green could have a chance to get back on track against Louisiana Tech, which has struggled early in the season defensively. The Bulldogs are allowing 38.7 points per game and have failed to contain opponents’ passing games.
Louisiana Tech is allowing 420.0 passing yards per game.
When Louisiana Tech has the ball
UNT gave up a host of big plays in its loss to UAB, including three touchdown passes that covered at least 38 yards. Tight end Gerrit Prince caught three passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mean Green had shown signs of growth under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett up until last week and will look to get back on track against Louisiana Tech.
The Bulldogs are averaging 38.7 points per game behind a host of playmakers and quarterback Austin Kendall. The former Oklahoma and West Virginia quarterback is averaging 279.0 passing yards per game and has seven touchdown passes on the season.
UNT heads into its game against Louisiana Tech with a host of injury issues and is coming off one of its worst performances in six seasons under Littrell.
Wide receivers Tommy Bush and Jyraire Shorter are not expected to play and head the list of injured UNT players.
On paper, this is a game Louisiana Tech should win, especially at home. The question is if the Bulldogs will get off the mat after their second last-second loss of the season.
Skip Holt will have his team ready to play. Louisiana Tech is loaded with playmakers on offense. They’ll make the difference in a shootout.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 35, UNT 31