UNT-Marshall prediction

North Texas quarterback Austin Aune, right, congratulates teammate Roderic Burns after Burns scored on a 52-yard reception during the Mean Green's loss to Missouri last week.

Marshall at North Texas

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Apogee Stadium, Denton

Records: UNT 1-4, 0-2 Conference USA; Marshall 3-3, 1-1 Conference USA

Last game: Missouri 48, UNT 35; Marshall 20, Old Dominion 13 (OT)

Last meeting: UNT 38, Marshall 21 (2016)

TV: CBS Sports Network

What’s on the line?

UNT enters its game against Marshall riding a four-game losing streak. The Mean Green’s best chance to snap that skid in the next couple of weeks will come against the Thundering Herd.

Marshall has played a series of close games against teams of a similar stature to UNT the last few weeks and split those games. The Herd beat ODU and Navy but lost to Middle Tennessee, East Carolina and Appalachian State.

If UNT doesn’t break out this week, it could be a while before its next good opportunity. The Mean Green will face a Liberty team that is almost certain to roll into Denton at 6-1 next week.

Liberty is 3-0 in games against C-USA teams this season and has outscored them 122-42.

UNT has winnable games late in the season, starting with a game at Rice on Oct. 30.

It’s going to be a long wait to get to those games if UNT can’t win this week.

Marshall is 1-1 in C-USA play and can remain a contender in the league’s East Division if it keeps on winning. Charlotte is 2-0 and is the only unbeaten team in the division.

When UNT has the ball

UNT snapped a two-game streak of failing to crack 100 yards passing in its loss to Missouri behind Austin Aune.

The former Argyle standout threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers. He contributed in a significant way to UNT’s running game for the second straight week, finishing with 59 yards. Aune posted 56 rushing yards in a loss to Louisiana Tech.

The Mean Green will look to Aune to build on that performance against Marshall, a team that has long been known for its standout defense. The Thundering Herd is allowing 22.8 points per game.

Marshall allowed just 13 points last week in a win over Old Dominion. The Thundering Herd has 24 sacks and 48 tackles for loss on the season.

Linebacker Eli Neal has four sacks.

When Marshall has the ball

UNT is allowing 32.2 points per game and has made significant progress under coordinator Phil Bennett, despite taking a step back last week when the Mean Green allowed 48 points to Missouri.

UNT held Louisiana Tech to 24 points earlier this season and has forced nine turnovers. Linebacker KD Davis has 46 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss.

The Mean Green will face a significant challenge in Marshall. The Herd is averaging 34.8 points per game behind the combination of quarterback Grant Wells and running back Rasheen Ali. Wells is throwing for 332.0 yards per game, while Ali is rushing for 93.3.

Prediction

UNT appeared to have a reasonable shot at winning this game just a few days ago. The Mean Green will be at home and Marshall is traveling across the country on a short week.

The dynamics changed on Tuesday night when UNT dismissed wide receiver Deonte Simpson following a domestic dispute. Simpson was one of UNT’s best remaining receivers after a rash of injuries at the position. UNT had already lost Jyaire Shorter and Tommy Bush.

The incident is another distraction for a team that didn’t need one.

Marshall is still trying to find its footing under new coach Charles Huff but should have enough firepower to sneak past UNT.

Prediction: Marshall 35, UNT 27

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

Recommended for you

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!