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North Texas vs. Iowa preview: Mean Green look to snap Power Five losing skid

North Texas vs. Iowa preview: Mean Green look to snap Power Five losing skid

September 15
10:16 2017

The University of Iowa (2-0) is coming off an overtime victory against Iowa State University last Saturday night and will return home to take on North Texas (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. 

Power Five Atmosphere

Last season, the Mean Green offense stalled in the Swamp during the team’s only game against a Power Five program. North Texas was shutout by the University of Florida Gators vaunted defense and the insane crowd made it extremely hard for then-freshman quarterback Mason Fine to communicate at the line of scrimmage.

The Mean Green will face a similar issue this week in Iowa, a Power Five school with a storied past that traditionally has a disruptive crowd. North Texas will need to be on the same page in order to have success on both sides of the football.

The Mean Green haven’t won a game against a major conference opponent since 2011, when North Texas knocked off Indiana University Bloomington 24-21.

“There’s obviously a lot of the same in the atmosphere,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “It’s going to be a rocking crowd. Going on the road, in the Big Ten, it’ll be an exciting venue.”

Iowa’s pass game vs. North Texas’ secondary

After being torched by SMU’s Courtland Sutton, the Mean Green secondary has to be better this week. Much better.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley accumulated eight touchdown passes in his first two games of the season and has completed 62.5 percent of his throws. The North Texas secondary has to tighten things up or the game could be over quickly.

“We can play much better on the back end,” Littrell said. “We have to be disciplined. We have to have our eyes on the right stuff, because they’re going to pound it and take some play-action shots.”

Iowa’s run game vs. North Texas’ defensive line

The defensive line of the Mean Green actually did a very nice job of stuffing the holes against the SMU running backs last week, but Iowa is a different animal.

Hawkeyes’ running back Akrum Wadley is a premier ball carrier, averaging 117 yards and 4.5 yards per carry in his first two games of 2017. Containing the run can make the Hawkeyes at least somewhat one dimensional, which would help take some pressure off the North Texas secondary.

“[Wadley] is special,” Littrell said. “If you asked him I bet he’d give a lot of credit to the offensive line. They’re big and physical up front, and coach Ferentz always does a great job with his offensive line.”

The coaching matchup

Littrell is in the middle of his second year commanding the North Texas rebuild. This week he’ll be going up against a fully-established dynasty created by Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Ferentz is in his 19th season at Iowa and is two years removed from a 12-2 season, while the Mean Green were 1-11 two seasons ago. Littrell is going to have to get creative and try to outsmart Ferentz, who hasn’t changed much in his tenure with the Hawkeyes.

A win over this established program would undoubtedly be a turning moment for North Texas.

“It’s hard to get a win at this level,” Fine said. “Especially if we can get one against a Power Five, it would be great for the program and give everyone confidence.”

Score prediction: Iowa 42, North Texas 21

Featured Image: North Texas senior defensive tackle Sid Moore (44) attempts to sack Southern Methodist University quarterback Ben Hicks. 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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