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UNT vs FAU Preview: Whose Bowl Hopes Will End?

In a season that's been disappointing for both teams, Saturday's game will be the end to bowl hopes for either Florida Atlantic or North Texas

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Setting the Scene:

Date: November 8, 2014

Time: 6:00 PM CST

TV: Fox College Sports

Location: Apogee Stadium- Denton, Texas, America

Line: Florida Atlantic -4

Background

It's been a disappointing season for both Florida Atlantic and North Texas. The Mean Green were picked by many to finish atop the West Division of Conference USA, yet find themselves as one of eleven teams nationwide who do not have a conference win and on a four-game losing streak. The Owls surprised some early with big wins over UTSA and Tulsa, but failed to gain any momentum from the four-game winning streak they posted to end 2013 on a .500 note.

A loss for either team eliminates it from bowl eligibility. For North Texas, it is Homecoming, and the 1000th game played in the program's history. As if it has any bearing on this game, North Texas is 2-1 in Homecoming games in the Dan McCarney era, including last year's 41-7 blowout of UTEP. UNT has been consistently good at home since McCarney took over, winning 66% of its games at Apogee, but is 2-2 this year.

Andrew McNulty gets the start at quarterback again for the Mean Green, with Dajon Williams expected to be worked in at some point. Junior wide receiver Carlos Harris will hope someone can get him the ball- he had 216 receiving yards the last time the Mean Green played at home. Harris will have his hands full as All-Conference defensive back D'Juon Smith draws him in coverage. Smith ranked second nationally with 20 passes defended last year.

While the Owls will probably be without running back Greg Howell (see below), the offense still features quarterback Jacquez Johnson, who threw for three touchdowns and rushed for 45 yards in a near upset of UAB last week. The Mean Green defense has been torn apart by solid quarterbacks like Cody Sokol of La Tech and Cody Clements of UAB this year, and Johnson figures to be another QB that could give the defense fits.

Injuries

FAU could be without top running back Greg Howell, who is dealing with a hamstring strain. Howell has rushed for over 5 yards per attempt this season.

UNT will be without defensive tackle Dutton Watson and special teams contributor Rex Rollins.

Prediction

Homecoming finally inspires the Mean Green, and they pull out a 35-31 victory over the Owls, with the young defense making a few key stops late in the game.