UNT-Louisiana Tech prediction

North Texas running back DeAndre Torrey (13) carries the ball during the Mean Green's loss to Louisiana Tech during the 2018 season at Apogee Stadium. The teams will meet in Denton for the first time since that game on Thursday. 

Louisiana Tech at North Texas

When: 5 p.m., Thursday

Where: Apogee Stadium, Denton

Records: UNT 3-4, 2-3 C-USA; Louisiana Tech 4-3, 3-2 C-USA

Last game: UTSA 49, UNT 17; Louisiana Tech 37, UAB 34 (2OT)

Last meeting: Louisiana Tech 52, UNT 17 (2019)

TV: CBS Sports Network

What’s on the line?

Both Louisiana Tech and UNT are looking to make a late run at a bowl berth and a winning season heading into their showdown on Thursday.

UNT fell under .500 when it lost at UTSA last week but has games left against Louisiana Tech and UTEP. Winning those two games would allow the Mean Green to finish the regular season with a winning record.

Louisiana Tech has seen its last four games canceled or postponed due to the coronvirus pandemic. The Bulldogs added a game at TCU on Dec. 12 this week.

Beating UNT would ensure Louisiana Tech finishes the regular season over .500. 

The rules that require teams to win six games to become bowl eligible were rescinded this year. 

UNT and Louisiana Tech both have a chance to play in the postseason. Their chances would improve with a win on Thursday.

When UNT has the ball

UNT is coming off a rough game offensively in its loss to UTSA. The Mean Green managed just 17 points and 401 yards against the Roadrunners.

A big chunk of those yards came on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jason Bean to Jaelon Darden. 

The Mean Green seemed to find a groove behind Bean in their previous two games. The sophomore rushed for a combined 263 yards in wins over Middle Tennessee and Rice. UTSA limited Bean to 10 rushing yards.

Even after a tough game, UNT ranks second in C-USA with an average of 34.3 points per game.

Louisiana Tech has taken a step back defensively after losing defensive backs Amik Robertson and L'Jarius Sneed to the NFL. The Bulldogs rank 12th in C-USA with an average of 253.1 passing yards allowed per game and are giving up 32.3 points per game.

When Louisiana Tech has the ball

UNT has struggled most of the season defensively and gave up 443 rushing yards in its loss to UTSA. 

The Mean Green rank last in C-USA in scoring defense (41.0 points per game), rushing defense (244.0 yards allowed per game) and pass defense (291.3 yards allowed per game). 

Louisiana Tech is averaging 30.3 points per game and has a deep group of skill position players led by slot receiver Smoke Harris and running back Israel Tucker. Harris has 23 catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns, while Tucker has rushed for 336 yards and two touchdowns. 

Prediction

Two of UNT's last three games against Louisiana Tech have gone down the the wire. The exception was last season, when the Bulldogs blew out UNT 52-17.

The Bulldogs are better than their record indicates. Louisiana Tech fell to BYU and Marshall, two teams that are ranked in the Top 25, and also lost to UTSA 27-26 in a game it was close to putting away late in the second half.

The Mean Green are coming off a short week and a demoralizing loss to UTSA, their biggest rival in C-USA.

Louisiana Tech could be a little rusty after more than a month off, but the Bulldogs have also had a ton of time to get healthy and prepare for UNT.

The Bulldogs have had three key players opt out of the season in wide receiver Adrian Hardy, running back Justin Henderson and offensive lineman Willie Allen.

That will tip the scales toward UNT, but Louisiana Tech has enough firepower to pull out a close game. 

Prediction:  Louisiana Tech 31, UNT 28

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

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