Date: Saturday November 18, 2017
Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. EST / 5:30 p.m. CST
Location: Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX
TV: BeIn Sports
Streaming: BeIn Sports
Line: North Texas -2.5, O/U 58
Series Record: Army leads 5-1
Last Meeting: Army defeated North Texas 38-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year. North Texas won their last regular-season meeting, 35-18, earlier that same season.
These two teams have to be tired of playing each other by this point.
If you’re North Texas, it’s always good to host a school with some national cache, a team that’s also a household name that can help bring in casual fans to your stadium. Former North Texas AD Rick Villarreal realized that Army had that brand recognition, so just decided to put them on the schedule, like, five times.
Well, there’s a new sheriff in town, as new AD Wren Baker cancelled a few of those upcoming games in the interest of diversifying UNT opponents, while also raising interest for Mean Green fans. Army, meanwhile, is having such a good season they presumably feel they can beat anyone and don’t care who they play. We can’t blame ‘em.
After Saturday, barring any bowl shenanigans, these two won’t meet again until 2020. It’s the rubber match, yo. Let’s get to it.
Black Knights Overview
What is the deal with this team?
Two weeks ago, Army defeated respectable Mountain West team Air Force without completing or attempting a single forward pass. The final score was 21-0.
Last week, Army beat Duke 21-16, and completed only one pass, and not even a convenient one either, it was a 42-yarder from Ahmad Bradshaw to a possibly surprised Army WR Kell Walker.
Army did all this with primarily three backs: Andy Davidson, Darnell Woolfolk, and Bradshaw all combined for 211 yards of the 226 total rushing yards on the day.
One would think, with the tools and experience Jeff Monken has, he might try and air it out a little more, but hey, if it works it works, and at this point in the season there’s no reason to start making huge changes.
This Army team isn’t exactly exciting, but it doesn’t need to be— it’s steady, relentless, and gets the ball down the field. This will certainly require some defensive adjustments from their opponents this week, who have struggled against the run this season, but still found ways to beat ground-heavy C-USA opponents.
At 8-2, it’s easy to give this Army team too much credit; yes, they’re about to hit two bowls in a row for the first time since the Reagan Administration, but also keep in mind those Air Force and Duke games were the best opponents they beat all season. This team needed OT to take out Temple, and their two losses were to Ohio State and, wait for it, Tulane.
This is not to take anything away from the outstanding season Army has had. It’s just to say these two teams might just be evenly matched, and there’s a reason they split the series a year ago.
Mean Green Overview
North Texas has two games left in the season, and could lose them both and still make the C-USA title game. This is a strange new feeling for Mean Green fans.
UNT has come out on top of their division, but they’ve not dominated. A week ago we pointed out how they’d beaten UTSA, La Tech and UAB by a combined seven points, and while this week’s game doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme of things, their luck has to run out sometime.
“Run” will be the operative word here, as a problematic North Texas defense will have to work hard all day to stop run play, after run play, after run play. This might even be good practice on how to stop FAU’s Devin Singletary in the C-USA title game, but that is a discussion for another day.
Two games left in the regular season means only two regular season games for senior Jeffrey Wilson, who has smashed records. Wilson now stands at 1143 rushing yards on the season, with the conference title game and bowl game on the horizon. While that’s an impressive number, it’s actually fewer yards than Army’s Bradshaw, who has 1228. If the Mean Green D can contain Bradshaw, the rest should be fine, as their next two top rushers don’t even have half as many yards.
And then there’s Mason Fine. With 2812 passing yards so far this season, expect him to go over 3000 during this game, win or lose. We’ve said enough about him, but as this will be a bit of a different game for the Mean Green, it’s important to mention kicker Trevor Moore, who has been exquisite— 42 for 42 on XP’s, and 14/16 on field goals, the only two misses coming on attempts of 40+ yards.
With RB Nic Smith breaking out, along with WR Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence, Rico Bussey Jr., Turner Smiley, Jaelon Darden... this list is deep. Army has a great record, but can they outscore this Mean Green offense? That’s the question.
An independent schedule can be rough, and Jeff Monken and his team have made a meal out of it. That said, the most number of points they’ve scored against non-FCS competition was 49 against Rice, a team with a far worse defense than even the Mean Green. UNT doesn’t play Rice until next week, but both teams have played UTEP this year, with Army pounding out a win, 35-21. Meanwhile, UNT dominated, 45-10.
This is one of the best Army teams of the last 30 years, and every game this season will be a pleasure to watch. But the same could be said of North Texas, and there’s a reason the forward pass was legalized 100 years ago. It works.
Final score: UNT 38, Army 24