Start Time: Noon EST
Location: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville TN
TV: SEC Network
Series Record: North Texas leads the all-time series, 1-0. Yes, really.
Betting Line: Tennessee -41.5, O/U 66.5
North Texas Outlook:
It's not my fault, but I've been a fan of some traditionally terrible teams in my life. The Houston Astros, the Houston Oilers, even the Houston Rockets struggled for a few years after their Jordan-less NBA titles back in the mid-1990s. But despite some good runs from these pro teams, there were some very, very dark days in there. Just as there are some very dark days for your favorite Underdog college team... more than likely.
Which is what makes it so frustrating that North Texas has the core foundation of a decent team. This is not just a pack of scrubs, nor is it an FCS team-- this is a team with a possible all-conference receiver in Carlos Harris (now at 53 receptions for 668 yards), and ditto for top rusher Jeffrey Wilson (683 yards over nine games). Any other team in CUSA would trip over themselves to get these guys to transfer, but their loyalty is to the Green, and bless 'em for it.
The next-best rusher on the team is the frikkin' quarterback, who despite getting socked in the mouth by La Tech last week, still managed to throw for 234 yards despite no touchdowns until garbage time. If Mike Canales has any strikes against him as coach, it's not having a faster turnaround with raw talent like that.
We can say without judgment or bias that the 2015 Tennessee squad is a thoroughly mediocre SEC team, which should be good enough for a bowl game and the standard bullying of a G5 school. To read up more thoroughly on the Vols, visit Rocky Top Talk here, or check out their perspective on the game here. Spoilers: The headline contains the words "meaningful reps for backups."
The intangibles here are interesting, certainly, as the 53 carries for 668 yards from NT's Harris? More than the Vols top two rushers COMBINED, as Josh Malone and Von Pearson have between the two of them racked up 46 carries for 600 yards. So on paper, sure, NT could run over all these guys. On turf, well, that's something else again.
This is a team with room for improvement in the SEC, but they've that that CUSA issue sorted.
We were genuinely hoping for some improvement under Mike Canales last week, but the Bulldog blowout seemed to be a step backward. This is the toughest defense North Texas has faced all season, and in truth we wish this game were scheduled for two weeks ago so we could make more Halloween puns.
Both teams have some incredibly talented players on the field who will be worth watching if you're catching this on cable or streaming. The highlights will be really fun. The final score will not.
Tennessee 62, North Texas 10