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Football takes on Texas-San Antonio with conference lead in the balance

Football takes on Texas-San Antonio with conference lead in the balance

Football takes on Texas-San Antonio with conference lead in the balance
October 22
12:00 2022

Football travels south on Saturday to take on defending Conference USA champion, the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Both North Texas (4-3, 3-0 C-USA) and Texas-San Antonio (5-2, 3-0 C-USA) come into the contest undefeated in conference play. The winner will have the outright lead in C-USA. 

“There is a lot of football left, so I am really focused on going 1-0,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “[When] you start looking ahead and looking where you stand and all that – that is just distractions. Our focus is on Texas-San Antonio.”

Saturday’s game will be the 10th in the series between the Mean Green and Roadrunners. Sharing a conference since 2013, the overall record between the teams is a nearly even 5-4 in favor of North Texas. 

The battle between Texas-San Antonio and the Mean Green has produced close games, upsets and been a key-part of both teams’ seasons in the past. Littrell said the series has grown into more of a rivalry because of the past intensity. 

“There have been some great games, and you know, we have been on the good side of some and not on the good side of some of them,” Littrell said. “Obviously it is not a very good feeling when you are not on the good side.”

Last season’s game between North Texas and the Roadrunners saw the teams in very different situations. Texas-San Antonio was on the brink of a perfect regular season, sitting 11-0 as the trip north to Denton loomed. The Mean Green were 5-6 and needed a win to acquire bowl eligibility. 

In an upset loss, North Texas won 2021’s contest 45-23, picking up bowl eligibility. Littrell said regardless of any leftover Roadrunner resentment from last year, his team is going to be “ready to play no matter what.”

“It is an important game for a lot of different reasons — both teams will be ready to play, they are going to prepare hard this week,” Littrell said. “I do not really think about that stuff.”

Texas-San Antonio was selected to win the conference in the C-USA preseason poll. Returning starting quarterback, redshirt senior Frank Harris is top five in the country in passing yards and overall offense.

Harris has picked up 2,300 passing yards this season for 15 touchdowns. His top targets — senior receivers De’Corian Clark and Zakhari Franklin — both sit atop C-USA in total receiving. In his fifth season with the Roadrunners, Saturday’s game will be the last time Harris faces the Mean Green.

“I feel like Frank [Harris] has been around as long as I have in this league,” Littrell said. “He understands how to get the ball to his playmakers — he can take his shots, but really does a great job of quick throws to get the ball in play makers’ hands.”

As for North Texas, the team enters San Antonio off a program record-breaking game versus Louisiana Tech University. As a team, the Mean Green rushed for 475 yards, which broke the university’s all-time rushing record in a game.

Sophomore running backs Ayo Adeyi and Oscar Adaway III both ran for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown each against the Bulldogs. Senior center Manase Mose, who played in his 54th straight game at North Texas, played in every snap of the record-breaking contest.

“Honestly, [the team] was just doing our assignments and being assignment sound – just getting after them,” Mose said. “Our [running] backs did a great job getting to the second level and being physical with them.”

Defensively, the Mean Green saw the return of junior linebacker Kevin Wood, who missed five games due to an ankle injury. Wood recorded 11 tackles versus Louisiana Tech.

“It was a long road back, but the sports medicine department really helped me,” Wood said. “It was tough to be out, but the guys did what they had to do and we are 3-0 in conference now, so it is good.”

Wood is listed as a starter again against the Roadrunners. With North Texas and Texas-San Antonio undefeated in conference play, Saturday’s matchup has season ramifications. As a developing rivalry, Wood said the game has added intensity.

“Since I have got here, [the rivalry] has just grown,” Wood said. “[During] Texas-San Antonio week, we work a little harder, we lock in a little bit more and we just have to play well.”

Featured Image: North Texas Austin Aune throws the ball in match against Louisiana Tech at Apogee Stadium on Oct. 15, 2022. Photo by Marco Barrera

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

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