Start Time: 7:00 pm. Saturday Sept. 12
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas TX
TV: Some local Dallas affiliate, if you're into that
Radio: Mean Green Radio Network, SMU Radio Network
Records: SMU 0-1, UNT 0-0. SMU leads the all-time series 28-4-1.
Live stats: Here
Betting Line: SMU -5.5
SMU outlook: After going toe-to-toe with Baylor for almost an entire half, SMU faded to black in Week One as the entire college football world knew they would. Still, doing that well against the Bears is better than any team has done against them in over a year, save for TCU-- so really considering the AAC outlook, this was an impressive showing for SMU (whom we are legally required to mention received the death penalty in the 1980's). The crawl back to respectability is a long one, particularly when your stadium holds about the same number of fans as....
North Texas outlook: That depends whether you're an optimist or a pessimist. Every year is a rebuilding year for this scrappy little program as we enter Year Five of the McCarney era, which so far has exactly one more bowl appearance than the Dodge Era, known locally in Denton as the Dumpster Fire Era (just kidding, in fact they call it worse things we can never reprint here). With the quarterback set, the new o-line in place, and a returning defensive line who may have learned a thing or two, is this the year for North Texas? Journalistic integrity forces us to say "maybe." Except, no.
Chad Morris: First-year head coach and Clemson escapee Morris is celebrating his first year in Dallas by not being June Jones. We're still not really sure what the deal is with JJ, who parlayed his success at Hawaii to a mediocre showing at SMU, but after the last 30 years, mediocre at SMU was an improvement. Morris takes over an underachieving (read: 1-11) squad and is the biggest question mark at SMU headed into the season. Clemson has been something of an underachiever these past few years, but as mentioned on this very site, SMU has built on recent success and is building around its existing line. Their opponent, however, already has something built.
Dan McCarney: Given a second shot after that same mediocre-is-good-enough run at Iowa State a few years back, McCarney took a team coming off an atrocious 4-year run and built a bowl team in three years. The pressure is on to repeat that feat, but even in a rebuilding year, anything less than .500 would be considered a step backward. Is McCarney the real deal, or just the best coach available for the price? It says a lot that we're in year five and the jury is still out.
Prediction: 'Tis an apocryphal story that during SMU's heydey a journalist asked SMU (30 miles from UNT) if they'd ever play the Mean Green, to which the coach responded "Maybe in the Safeway parking lot." That's how seriously anyone took the Mean Green for most of the 20th century, but that's a fun image and this is a fun series, particularly as both teams return to some modicum of respectability, and either can win this game. After last weeks showing against Baylor, though, SMU will be hungry, and UNT will merely be rested. I'm excited to watch them go all four quarters, and see if the North Texas unit comes together as promised, but at the end of the day you're still looking at SMU by at least two touchdowns, unless UNT has some weapons we haven't seen yet. Or the apocalypse.