Preview: North Texas looks for revenge on homecoming against UTEP

Preview: North Texas looks for revenge on homecoming against UTEP

Preview: North Texas looks for revenge on homecoming against UTEP
November 08
21:38 2017

With bowl eligibility clinched last week in North Texas’ 24-23 win over Louisiana Tech, the Mean Green return to Denton for a two-game homestand starting with the University of Texas at El Paso at 4 p.m. Saturday.

A win on homecoming would clinch the Conference USA West division title for North Texas.

Hard knock life for the Miners

The Miners are 0-9 with only one of those losses coming by less than 14 points. The lone close game came on its homecoming when they lost to Western Kentucky University 15-14.

UTEP allows over 226 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry. North Texas’ senior running back Jeffery Wilson is coming off a bounce-back week where he gained 167 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

“Maybe they’re a very good defensive team,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “At times they may have gotten worn down a little bit, but in the back end, they’re very solid. They’re competitive, and they’re going to be very motivated, I promise you.”

Revenge

Last year, UTEP entered the final game against North Texas with little to play for as they sat at 3-8. Meanwhile, the Mean Green were looking for their vaunted sixth win and bowl eligibility.

The Miners throttled the Mean Green 52-24 and North Texas had to rely on its Academic Progress Rate to sneak into a bowl game. However, last season Fine did not play in that game, and Wilson only had seven carries coming off an injury.

This year, the team has definitely not forgotten about the loss and still has the bitter taste in their mouths.

“It’s been on our minds since last year,” Wilson said. “Losing that one set us back and almost took us away from [a bowl game]. So to be able to get them back and clinch [the west] and win, it’ll be a good motivation for us.”

Homecoming

North Texas is 3-4 in its last seven homecoming games, but that number doesn’t mean much coming into this season.

What does mean something is the fact that the Mean Green have won five of their six conference games and are 4-0 at home this season.

Littrell has made it clear he stresses home games extensively, and on a weekend where school spirit is at a yearly high, expect North Texas to reciprocate that same energy on the field.

“Personally, I’ve felt the excitement build with each win,” sophomore quarterback Mason Fine said. “Especially now that we have a chance to make the conference championship game, and we’re already bowl eligible. I think we’re going to feed off the energy, and you’re going to see us play well Saturday.”

UTEP’s offense

The Mean Green will face another run-first offense in UTEP. The Miners only averaged 3.2 yards per carry and have over 200 fewer yards than Wilson as a team this season.

North Texas is well prepared to face the run game of UTEP after facing Iowa University, Florida Atlantic University, Old Dominion University and Louisiana Tech. The front six in the 3-3-5 defense has been more than capable of filling its gaps, and the Mean Green safeties have done a good job of crashing down in the run game.

“They’re going to run the ball,” senior cornerback Eric Jenkins said. “We have to have good eye discipline because they’re [also] going to come over the top with a pass, so we have to be disciplined and hit our gaps.”

Score predictions:

Senior Staff Writer Matt Brune: North Texas 38, UTEP 20

Sports Editor Brady Keane: North Texas 42, UTEP 10

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore quarterback Mason Fine runs the ball in a game against Old Dominion University on Oct. 28. North Texas defeated ODU 45-38. Sara Carpenter

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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