UNT-LT prediction

North Texas players run on to the field at Apogee Stadium before a game earlier this season. UNT was eliminated from bowl contention with a loss to Rice. 

North Texas saw its bowl hopes come to a stunning end on Saturday with a 20-14 loss to Rice.

The Mean Green fell to 4-7. The Mean Green needed to win their last two games to become bowl eligible with six wins.

Here are five thoughts on the loss:

1. There are no two ways about it, this was a stunner

UNT falling on the road at Rice wasn't that big of a surprise. Rice isn't the best team in Conference USA, but it's an improving team. 

The Owls also had UNT on the road. The Mean Green have been terrible away from Apogee all year and haven't won a road game.

What was truly stunning was the fact UNT didn't show up in the first half. One would think the Mean Green would come out swinging with their season on the line.

They didn't and trailed 20-0 before getting something going.

2. One has to feel bad for Mason Fine

Mason Fine will go down as one of the best players in program history, but is suffering through a tough season.

Fine has been knocked around, seen some of his key teammates go down with injuries and will miss a bowl game.

Fine is one of the best people to play for UNT in years. It's tough to see a great person and player go out this way.

3. UNT just lacks chemistry this year

UNT has some good players on both sides of the ball, but for some reason it just seems to lack chemistry. 

When UNT's offense is playing well, its defense struggles. When its defense plays well, it can't score.

It's just baffling to see a team with so much talent fail to produce.

4. The Mean Green have questions to answer

UNT will now look to a future without its star quarterback and a host of key seniors.

The program has recruited well of late, but is that enough to help get the Mean Green back on track?

It's hard to look forward and see a path back to where UNT was just a few months ago unless some of its young players come through in a big way.

5. There will be a lot of talk of changes going forward

UNT has a lot of questions to answer going forward and some will certainly be asked about the team's coaching staff.

The Mean Green haven't been the same offensively without coordinator Graham Harrell and are still struggling defensively.

UNT's staff has done a lot of great things. The question Littrell will have to answer in the offseason is if he has the right mix.

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

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