North Texas’ short, bitter rivalry with UTSA continues this weekend

North Texas’ short, bitter rivalry with UTSA continues this weekend

North Texas’ short, bitter rivalry with UTSA continues this weekend
October 11
22:58 2017

The dictionary definition of a rival is simply “a person or thing competing with another for the same objective, or for superiority in the same field of activity.”

That’s pretty boring and vague.

Sports rivalries historically need more. Think of Michigan vs. Michigan State, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin and Texas vs. Oklahoma – those are a few of the grandest examples, as those teams have played each other more than 110 times in their history.

But there is no written rule for how many times two teams have to play for a series to turn into a rivalry. North Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio played only four times, but the Mean Green view the Roadrunners as one of their most bitter rivals.

“I would say this is probably our No. 1 rivalry game,” sophomore quarterback Mason Fine said. “The buzz on campus is the [students] are excited.”

Fine’s partner in the backfield, senior running back Jeffery Wilson heard about the 2013 loss to UTSA – one that knocked North Texas out of the race for the Conference USA championship – when he was graduating from Elkhart High School.

He relayed a message that several players have concurred with.

“UTSA is somebody that we don’t like,” Wilson said. “On the field, they’re the enemy and that goes for anybody. But I’ve been hearing about UTSA since before I got here from that 2013 team. Ever since I heard that, it was like, alright we have to beat these guys.”

Players admitted to knowing players from UTSA, which strengthens the rivalry on a personal level.

Senior Kishawn McClain has been involved in three of the four games between the schools and has been a starter in the last two.

He is aiming to move to 2-1 as a starter against the Roadrunners and knows what’s at stake this time around.

“It’s a pretty big rivalry,” McClain said. “I beat them once, they beat me once, so I’m trying to go out with a win against them. It’ll be a fun and exciting game so I’m ready for it.”

Head coach Seth Littrell sees the rivalry from a different perspective than his players, for obvious reasons. This is his second season at the helm, which is also true of UTSA head coach Frank Wilson. Both are shaping their programs with every game, and Littrell knows this is a game that can shift things for both programs going forward.

While his players insist the rivalry is full-fledged, Littrell takes a more cautious approach – but still understands its significance.

“I think it’s growing into [a rivalry],” Littrell said. “With the history we’ve had and [they] are an in-state school. We recruit against each other. We compete against each other. Anytime you have a school like that, there’s some type of rivalry to it.”

The history Littrell mentions is four games of rather close competition between the two schools. UTSA has the 3-1 advantage, but their lone loss was to a 1-11 North Texas team in 2015. That was seemingly revenge for the UTSA win in 2013 that threw a wrench in the Mean Green’s hopes to win the conference.

Last season, both teams were solid, but North Texas was coming off back-to-back wins while the Roadrunners had just lost to UTEP in 5OT. UTSA derailed North Texas’ streak and won comfortably in the Alamodome.

“They came into our home, Apogee [in 2013], and upset us,” Littrell said. “There’s definitely that history, and they’ve done a great job in this series of coming out on top so far. So we understand that, and it’s a big game for us.”

The winner of Saturday’s game will be in prime position to compete for the C-USA title going forward. With that being thrown on top of the rivalry, sophomore wide receiver Jalen Guyton knows what the team’s mindset is as they prepare for Saturday.

“To whoop their ass, simply put,” Guyton said. “If we work hard, handle our business and we’re disciplined then we can play with whoever.”

Featured Image: North Texas won its only game of the 2015-2016 season against UTSA. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men’s basketball.

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