North Texas Daily

Football rides three game win streak into Florida International matchup

Football rides three game win streak into Florida International matchup

Football rides three game win streak into Florida International matchup
November 19
13:18 2021

Following three-straight wins, North Texas football heads into Miami, FL on Saturday to play Florida International University with bowl eligibility still in the balance.

“I think anytime you put together wins, confidence gets better,” head coach Seth Littrell said Tuesday morning. “Credit to our guys, the way they’ve continued to stick together.”

North Texas (4-6, 3-3 Conference USA) found the win column last weekend versus UTEP, putting the Mean Green in a favorable position going into their penultimate game of the season at FIU (1-9, 0-6 C-USA).

FIU has struggled to get going this season. After winning their opener versus Long Island University, the Panthers have dropped their last nine games, losing the last eight by double digits. 

Regardless of an underwhelming record, Littrell said he is not underestimating FIU.

“I definitely think they’re a dangerous team,” Littrell said. “We’ve been there, you want to dig yourself out of the hole and finish strong.”

As a 1-6 team two weeks ago, North Texas’ season looked to be similar to FIU’s, but a recent string of good performances and wins have flipped the script for the Mean Green. 

On defense, North Texas has held its opponents under 20 points for the last two weeks, after surrendering 20-plus in each of the previous seven games. Discipline on all three phases of the ball has improved the last two weeks, with the Mean Green tying their season low of two. 

“We’ve turned up our intensity in practice,” senior safety Makyle Sanders said of his defense. “It’s just meaning a lot more to us than it was earlier in the season and everyone has just believed in doing their job and being in the right places.”

Offensively, the rushing attack has continued to be the strong point for the Mean Green, who leads C-USA in rushing yards per game with 233.3 yards per game. Team leading rusher with 997 yards on the season, senior running back DeAndre Torrey surpassed the 3,000 yard career rushing last weekend and will more than likely surpass 1,000 yards for the season on Saturday. 

Behind Torrey, the trio of freshman backs Isaiah Johnson, Ikaika Ragsdale and Ayo Adeyi have contributed to the conference-best rushing offense. 

“I think really just getting everyone involved, you know,” Johnson said of North Texas’ running prowess. “[The running backs] are really starting to step up.”

Inversely, FIU has been a top three passing offense in the conference this season, averaging over 276 yards of passing offense a game this season. 

Redshirt senior quarterback Max Bortenschlager has started all ten contests for the Panthers, compiling 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Bortenschlager’s main target has been sophomore receiver Tyrese Chambers, who has caught 37 passes for seven touchdowns on the season. 

FIU’s defense has been the worst in the conference so far this season, allowing just under 40 points per game, five more than second-to-last, Rice. 

North Texas at FIU kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday as the Mean Green fight to keep their bowl hopes and win streak alive. 

“We’re all sick of losing,” Johnson said. “No one wants to lose anymore and you got to say enough is enough.”

Featured Image: Mean Green kicker Ethan Mooney (0) and punter Bernardo Rodriguez (32) celebrate after kicking a go-ahead field goal with 10 seconds remaining at Apogee Stadium on Nov. 13, 2021. Photo by Zach Del Bello

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

sports editor

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