A way-too-early football season prediction

A way-too-early football season prediction

A way-too-early football season prediction
April 29
10:49 2019

After going 9-4 in the 2018 season, the Mean Green football team prepare for their fall season. Before August rolls around, here are my predictions for each 2019 regular season game.

Aug. 31 — North Texas vs Abilene Christian – Win

To kick things off, I think this game against the Wildcats will be a great exhibition game for the Mean Green offensively and defensively. Abilene Christian ended the 2018 season in fourth place in the Southerland Conference standings behind Incarnate Word. North Texas defeated Incarnate Word 58-16 with senior quarterback Mason Fine throwing for 418 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. The Wildcats also lost to Incarnate Word by a score of 44-34. Essentially, the Mean Green use this game to test drive their offense that underwent a few alterations this spring and gets an easy win while doing so. North Texas’ defense should have a great warm-up game to prep for the season with the Wildcats’ offensive numbers looking relatively subpar last season, averaging 278.4 pass yards per game and 160.9 yards on the ground.

Sept. 7 — North Texas at Southern Methodist – Win

I like this matchup — the annual rivalry game against the Mustangs has the chance to be competitive this year. Southern Methodist could not catch a break last season as the Mean Green defeated them 46-23. North Texas’ defense smothered the Mustangs and left Southern Methodist’s Ben Hicks with a quarterback rating of 1.1 when the game ended. I think the Mean Green’s offense mirrors what they did last year to a degree but don’t be surprised if they hit some snags this game. The Mustangs have former Texas Longhorn Shane Buechele under center now after snagging him out of the transfer portal. Granted, Buechele isn’t anything to sneeze at, he’s thrown 4,636 yards in his three years of playing along with 30 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. However, he is an experienced quarterback who has played well in the Big 12 and competed in big rivalry games during his time in Texas. North Texas won’t have its stellar cornerback back duo in Kemon Hall and Nate Brooks anymore, so I think it’ll be challenged through the air to some degree, but North Texas’ offense wins this game.

Sept. 4 — North Texas at California – Win

Most people look at California and think the PAC-12 and automatically think North Texas takes a loss. The irony here is that most people would be lying to you if they said they thought North Texas could have beaten Arkansas last season. Not only did they beat the Razorbacks, they went viral in the process. California ended the season barely staying above .500 with a 7-6 record and in fifth place in the PAC-12 North. However, they were ranked No. 15 in the nation in total defense. With the Golden Bears barely staying afloat in a division that has lost its shine in recent years, their defensive ranking could be misleading with the level of competition they’ve competed against. The Mean Green smoked an SEC school last year and I believe they can manage to beat another Power 5 school this season as well.

BYE WEEK: At this point in the season, the Mean Green will be 3-0 with a season opener win, rivalry win and a victory over a Power 5 conference school.

Sept 21.— North Texas vs Texas-San Antonio – Win

Last year North Texas came out on top in this game against Texas-San Antonio, winning by a mere three points with a game-winning sack by former linebacker Ejodamen Ejiya. The Roadrunners finally found a capable quarterback for their last two games of the season, until he decided to transfer out. I’m not sure who will be helming their offense next year and to be honest, I don’t think Texas-San Antonio knows either. What I do know is that it was dead last in the conference in total offense, primarily due to constant quarterback turnover. I don’t see the Roadrunners righting the ship in one season. North Texas’ defense could use another warm-up game at this point in the season and they have one at home with the Roadrunners.

Sept. 28 — North Texas vs Houston – Loss

The first loss of the season won’t come for North Texas until the fifth game. Houston’s defense was second to last in total defense and defending the pass in their conference last season. The Cougars are coming into Apogee sporting arguably the best quarterback North Texas will be facing this season. D’Eriq King scored 50 total touchdowns last year —14 of those were with his legs — accumulating 2,982 yards through the air with 674 on the ground while only throwing six interceptions. King could have increased those totals had he not suffered a torn meniscus against Tulane last November. However, reports are pointing to King making a full recovery for the 2019 season. A healthy King and his skillset will ultimately humble the Mean Green’s defense and engage in a high scoring game with a North Texas team who struggled to close out big games last season.

BYE WEEK: It’s never good to go into a bye week off a loss, but I think this week off will give head coach Seth Littrell and Co. a chance to get back on track. After starting 4-1, the Mean Green still have seven regular-season games remaining.

Oct. 12 — North Texas at Southern Mississippi – Win

North Texas was able to subdue Southern Mississippi last year after unleashing running back Deandre Torrey for three touchdowns. Despite the Mean Green beating them 30-7, the Golden Eagles kept Mason Fine to one touchdown. Southern Miss allowed the fewest yards in FBS last year (3,062) which could pose a threat for first-year offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder. Their offensive ranking wasn’t nearly as glamorous, as they were the 119th ranked offense in FBS and I’m not foreseeing any immediate convincing offensive changes for this season. If North Texas can keep things together on offense on the road, the busses should leave Hattiesburg a steady 2-0 against conference opponents.

Oct. 19 — North Texas vs Middle Tennessee – Win

Middle Tennessee finished in first place in the East with a well-earned 7-1 conference record and an overall record of 8-6 last season. However, that was with their former starting quarterback Brent Stockstill, who threw for 3,544 yards and 29 touchdowns. Replacing Stockstill is still a question that the Blue Raiders are seeking an answer for and with the absence of a set ground game, the Blue Raiders may face the reality of having a down year. Middle Tennessee’s defensive ranking in conference was middle of the pack and that doesn’t bode well when going up against an offense with air and ground threats like Mason Fine and Deandre Torrey.

Oct. 26 — North Texas at Charlotte – Win

North Texas has yet to go against a subsequent running back threat so far this season until now. This will be the first time the Mean Green play against Charlotte in the Littrell Era. Benny LeMay was one of C-USA’s prominent running backs for the 49er’s last season. He scored 11 touchdowns (fourth most) and finished with the second most rushing yards (1,243) and yards per game (103.6). Charlotte’s passing offense isn’t much of an element and tends to lean on LeMay’s running abilities. The same cannot be said about the 49ers’ defense as they were ranked third in conference in total defense and when defending the run. However, they struggled to defend the pass as they were ranked seventh. At this point in the season, North Texas is 6-1 and this game could shape out to be a nail bitter depending on how the Mean Green defense handles LeMay on the road, but I’ll give the nod to North Texas and the offense once more.

Nov. 2— North Texas vs Texas-El Paso – Win

The Miners only managed to win one game last season and they would have won a second if North Texas had not sobered up from its last loss in time to win by three. The Miners were down near the bottom in the conference when it came to both defense (ninth) and offense (13th). They also don’t have a quarterback who has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions so far. The Mean Green should win their homecoming matchup as long as Texas-El Paso doesn’t make any quantum leaps in its identity as a team. The Mean Green should be undefeated in conference play after this home game with a 5-0 record if they don’t choke.

Nov. 9 — North Texas at Louisiana Tech – Loss

The Bulldogs battled hard against the Mean Green last season and found a way to block North Texas’ game-winning chip shot field goal to spoil their perfect season. Louisiana Tech’s quarterback J’mar Smith had a decent game, throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Smith ultimately threw for 3,160 yards and 15 touchdowns to end the season, but he absorbed 33 sacks, the most in C-USA. North Texas’ defense will have to step up to the plate in this road game against a tough conference opponent. The Bulldogs were able to suppress offenses last year as they garnered a fifth-place conference ranking in total defense. They were also third in the conference against the pass. I think North Texas gets an early lead, only to stall out once more when the game matters most. I have the Mean Green dropping a close one in Louisiana.

BYE WEEK: In their third and final bye week, the Mean Green sit at 8-2 and 5-1 in Conference USA. With two games left, North Texas will have a legitimate shot to make it to the conference championships and appear in their fourth straight bowl game.

Nov. 23 — North Texas at Rice – Win

Rice ended the season last year second to last in conference in total defense and was ranked the third worst offense. The Owls had four quarterbacks attempt passes last season and according to reports, they may turn to freshman Wiley Green. Even if that’s true, North Texas should win this game easily after dismantling the Owls last season 41-17 at Apogee. The Mean Green should hit on all cylinders once again and tack one on to the win column.

Nov. 30 —North Texas vs Alabama-Birmingham – Win

The reigning conference champion Blazers made a comeback to beat the Mean Green in a pivotal game last season. Alabama-Birmingham brandishes an offense with one of C-USA’s best running backs in Spencer Brown, who was third in rushing yards (1,227), second in touchdowns (16) and first in carries (272). North Texas’ defense will have their hands full with Brown this year as he shredded the Mean Green last season for 100 yards and three touchdowns. Alabama-Birmingham is still split between starting quarterback A.J. Erdley or Tyler Johnston III after last season’s performances. Despite that, I believe North Texas avenges its loss from last year and takes the C-USA crown in an instant classic against the Blazers at Apogee.

Sporting a 7-1 C-USA record, the 10-2 Mean Green should have an easy shot at a conference championship title. The only catalyst to their success will be themselves. If they don’t repeat their second-half woes from 2018, this could be a good year for North Texas football.

Featured Image: Mason Fine congratulates teammate Deandre Torrey after a successful play against Florida Atlantic on November 15, 2018. Image by: Jessika Hardy.

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Matthew Suarez

Matthew Suarez

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1 Comment

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