The Mean Green have their first home and division game of the season against the Rice Owls. This game is important for a lot of reasons. To begin, this is a conference game against a team that many think could contend to take the division title.
Although the Owls offense appears to be full of talent, the defense is going through a lot of re-building after losing four defensive lineman last season. The Mean Green have the opportunity to play a Rice team, at home, that will have just played the Longhorns in Austin the week before they travel to Denton. If UNT can knock off the Owls in their second game of the season, they can set themselves up nicely for the remainder of conference play and gain the confidence that can carry them through season.
The long lasting rivalry between SMU and UNT lost no fuel during the years that the teams did not play each other. Both teams want to win, and both teams want to show who the power house of the North Texas area is. The Mean Green have been unreliable on the road to say the least, managing only five road wins in the past four seasons. However, with SMU being just down the highway from UNT, the Mean Green have the opportunity to have a home feel at an away game for the first time in a while.
I don't think anyone really knows how or why this game started turning into a rivalry game, but it has. For some reasons these fan bases just do not like each other very much. From the North Texas side, the dislike could very possibly stem from just barely losing two years in a row to a UTSA team that many expected the Mean Green to beat.
This game also happens to fall on Halloween night. Last time UNT played on Halloween, the Mean Green put on quite a memorable performance against Rice that included stopping the owls from the one yard line eight consecutive times. Just general dislike and evenly matched teams makes this an exciting game to get ready for.
UNT historically has not had much success against SEC teams. However, the last time the Mean Green played Tennessee they left Knoxville with a stunning 21-14 upset. Who is to say history can't repeat itself? The Mean Green go into Knoxville to play a Tennessee team that has not managed a season with more than seven wins since 2007.
Beating Tennessee in their home stadium would easily be one of the most extreme confidence boosts for the team and the program as a whole. For the fans who still have flashbacks of the near upset against Georgia just two seasons ago, this game can serve as some great revenge against the SEC.
On paper this game may not seem that interesting or very important, but I promise you it is. The Mean Green lost a devastating game last season at home to Southern Miss that essentially killed the spirit of many fans. This year the team will certainly look to erase that loss from their memory for good. However, this game is played away, which we know does not serve North Texas very favorably.
Southern Mississippi seems to be in somewhat of an extended re-building period, and the Mean Green can quite possibly take advantage and take care of business on the road. A road division win would do a lot for this team, seeing as three of the other five division games are at home where North Texas seems to thrive. A 4-1 record in the west division would certainly exceed many expectations.