If college football was the equivalent of "Project Runway", Tim Gunn might be telling the North Texas Mean Green to never wear the uniform combination of a white jersey and black pants again. The Mean Green fell behind 28-0 early (as they did with the same uniform combination against Indiana), and lost 35-17. UTEP clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010, or four years before Americans could spell the word "Ebola".
It is worth noting before I continue that UTEP was celebrating its centennial weekend, which the men's basketball team started off with a bang Friday night by upsetting Washington State 65-52 at "The Don". The North Texas volleyball team picked up a key win Saturday against UTEP, winning 3 sets to none. I believe the promotion was "get a free Papa John's slice when you swipe your ticket".
UTEP controlled the game early, driving 75 yards in the first drive, capped off by a 31-yard Nathan Jeffrey run for a touchdown. Sophomore running back Aaron Jones pitched in 177 yards and two touchdowns for UTEP, becoming the first UTEP running back to go over 1,000 yards since Daniel Thomas in 2009. North Texas allowed more plays that went for 20 yards or more in the first quarter than the team did all of last week's game against FIU. UTEP running back Nathan Jeffrey scored his most touchdowns in a game in his career, scoring three first half touchdowns.
Either the UNT offense lost 100 pounds of muscle mass and turned into the kids of Sandlot (yes, I know, wrong sport) , or the UTEP defense is that good. The El Paso Tex-Mex could also be blamed.
At halftime, the Mean Green rushing attack was averaging 0.9 yards per rush, or less than the average height of a normal three year old (based off of past experience as a camp counselor). The UNT offense went past midfield only once in the first half, and that was to grab orange slices from the UTEP fans that took pity on the putrid running game. As we have learned this season though, North Texas has an uncanny ability to score meaningless garbage time points, outscoring UTEP 17-7 in the second half.
North Texas finished with 93 rushing yards, including the "what in the hell?" play of the season, when Andrew McNulty ran for 65 yards deep in the UTEP territory in the fourth quarter.
However, McNulty threw himself into Heisman contention completing 16 of 28 passing attempts for 107 yards, with an incredible three yard dunk to Jeffrey Wilson, who turned it into a twenty-nine yard touchdown. Wilson also scored another garbage time touchdown late in the fourth, which made his 3 fantasy owners giddy. In his Monday press conference, Dan McCarney will say that McNulty did a "great job of managing the game and we are improving every week."
UTEP faces Rice next Friday in an attempt to go 3-0 against its in-state Conference USA rivals. North Texas plays FIU next Saturday in the "Conference USA Pillow Fight of the Week".