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North Texas tops UTEP 45-10, locks up first Conference USA West division title

UNT dominated UTEP to clinch spot in Conference USA Championship Game.

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at North Texas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The North Texas Mean Green defeated the UTEP Miners on Saturday, 45-10, to win their first C-USA West title, setting up a potential title-game rematch with FAU.

For UNT, confidence had to be high coming into this game, as they remain one of the top offenses in the conference. UTEP, meanwhile, came into the game at 0-9 (0-5) and surely just wanted to get the hell out of there.

North Texas has hardly been dominating most conference opponents, and it looked like that theme would continue against UTEP early as Jeffrey Wilson fumbled on their first drive, allowing LB Alvin Jones to pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. It was 7-0 UTEP, but that would be the last TD the Miners scored all day.

On the Mean Green’s next drive, they ran 13 plays before turning it over on downs. The series after that, they only needed ten plays for a touchdown, and they were off and running.

Mason Fine threw for 213 yards and four TD’s, as Wilson and Andrew Tucker contributed two more on the ground. Wilson ran for 144 yards on 20 carries. Rico Bussey Jr. led the team in receiving yards, at only 65. The Mean Green did a better job of spreading the ball around to different players, even as Jalen Guyton was not a factor in this one, with only one reception for two yards,

On UTEP’s side, even with the addition of interim coach Mike Price, they looked lethargic. Only 109 yards of passing from Zack Greenlee, and Joshua Fields ran for only 45 yards on 16 carries. Eight UTEP receivers had at least one reception (UNT had seven), but despite moderate gains where they could, this is a busted year for the Miners. Their final two games won’t get any easier, as they face La Tech, then UAB, before hopefully cleaning house and showing us something new in 2018.

North Texas, meanwhile, has claimed their first C-USA division title in program history, and are potentially poised for a conference title game against a team that beat them by 38 points a few weeks ago. North Texas has never played in a conference title game, despite winning or sharing four Sun Belt titles from 2001-2004.

The Mean Green had a lot to be proud of on Saturday. The student section was packed, members who were associated with UNT’s glory days in the Sun Belt were in attendance, and UNT handled their business, playing essentially conservative football against an outmatched UTEP team.

As they gear up now for a title game as well as a bowl game, UNT will next face a late-season non-conference opponent in Army, before finishing the regular season up on Nov. 25 at Rice.