North Texas Daily

UNT football will win Conference USA

UNT football will win Conference USA

UNT football will win Conference USA
October 17
14:18 2013

Tyler Owens / Managing Editor

It’s been nearly a decade since there’s been this much excitement surrounding the UNT football team.

The team has garnered hashtags dedicated to filling Apogee Stadium and its goal of winning six regular season games to become bowl-eligible. The goal seems more than likely at this point because as many as seven Conference USA teams will make bowl games this season. UNT only needs three more wins to be among them.

However, the team and fans’ real focus should be on winning the conference championship.

At the season’s halfway point, the Mean Green’s record is even at 3-3 with three home games remaining against Rice University (4-2, 3-0), the University of Texas-El Paso (1-5, 0-3) and the University of Texas–San Antonio (2-5, 1-2).

Two of those games – UTEP and UTSA – should be wins, and the game against Rice could go either way. The Mean Green is 10-4 at home during head coach Dan McCarney’s tenure.

Where the team struggles is on the road. UNT is 2-14 in the same time period.

UNT will face Louisiana Tech University (2-4, 1-1), the University of Southern Mississippi (0-5, 0-1) and the University of Tulsa (2-4, 1-1) on the road during the final weeks – a light road schedule considering the team’s difficulties.

UNT is a seven-point favorite at La. Tech this weekend, according to Bovada.com, and the team will surely be a favorite against Southern Miss, which hasn’t won a game since November 2011. The Tulsa game will be close, but UNT will need to win if it wants to have a shot at making a conference championship game.

To get into the championship, which is scheduled for Dec. 7, UNT needs to finish with the best conference record in the C-USA West Division.

Currently the Mean Green is in third behind Tulane University and Rice, with both sporting perfect conference records. Those teams finish the regular season against each other in Houston the same day UNT faces Tulsa.

Tulane is not as good as its record would seem to indicate. USA Today has the Green Wave ranked No. 45 in the country – four better than Texas Christian University – even after it lost to the University of South Alabama at home in week two, a team ranked No. 97 by USA Today.

The same poll has UNT ranked No. 70. The Mean Green should have beat Tulane. If not for critical penalties and game-changing mistakes a few weeks ago in New Orleans, UNT would be in the division’s driver’s seat.

Rice represents the biggest challenge remaining, and students should forgo the Halloween parties and head out to Apogee on Oct. 31 in full costume to cheer on the best Mean Green squad in 10 years.

Winning the conference is easier said than done, but no team is out of the race at this point.

If UNT gets its running game going, senior quarterback Derek Thompson keeps producing at the level he has this year, the defense keeps forcing fumbles like it has – UNT ranks first in the nation in fumble recoveries this season – and the team quits shooting itself in the foot with silly penalties, the Mean Green could be primed for a chance at the title.

UNT hasn’t won consecutive games since 2004, but the team should head to Ruston, La., this weekend with loftier goals in mind and end that streak.

Junior running back Reggie Pegram dives into the end zone for a touchdown with a Middle Tennessee opponent on his tail during the home game on Saturday. Feature photo by Ryan Vance / Staff Photographer

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