Date: Saturday, October 27th, 2018
Kickoff Time: 4 p.m. EST / 3 p.m. CST
Location: Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX
Line: North Texas -30, O/U 55.5
Series Record: Tied 4-4
Last Meeting: North Texas won 30-14 in 2017
North Texas had a bad week last week. Rice is having a bad season.
The Mean Green, we suspect, scheduled this one for homecoming for a reason. The spread is huge, and while the North Texas/UTEP game had a huge spread that turned out to be a nailbiter, this game promises to be a spooky bloodbath, worthy of a Halloween weekend.
Spoooky Outlook - Rice Owls
The Rice Owls are 1-7 and the last time they beat an FBS opponent not named UTEP or Charlotte, was three years ago this week. And yet no matter how many times they get killed, they keep coming back in sequel after sequel. How many teenagers must endure the senseless slaughter in West U?
This is not to say Rice isn’t without offensive weapons. For a second week in a row, North Texas will be facing a team with a straight-up better run game. Austin Walter and Emmanuel Esukpa have both rushed 112 times so far this season, for 507 and 443 yards, respectively. That one-two punch will keep the Mean Green on their toes, and force them to work for it.
Original starting QB Shawn Stankavage is out for the season with an injury, and the most recent news indicates freshman Wiley Green will get the start on Saturday. Rice fans can hope for a killer performance, but it will be trial by fire as Green only has one completed pass for six yards in his college career. When the wind blows just right on game day, you might be able to hear his screams as the play-by-play announcer looks into the mirror and repeats the phrase, “three and out... three and out.”
On the season, Rice’s ground game is just ahead of UNT’s. In terms of total offense, UNT has more yards in the air in 2018 (2,599) than Rice has in total offense (2,562). Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Haunted Outlook - North Texas Mean Green
North Texas is 6-2. Their two losses have come by a combined eight points. Last week, they edged out UAB for the lead in offensive yards, though tragically, not points.
There are twelve Friday the 13th movies, and 8,170 career passing yards for Mason Fine. This puts him 349 yards shy of the all-time passing record at UNT, set by Mitch Maher in 1994 (8,519). For Mitch’s comments, check out our story here.
Some other numbers to watch for on Saturday:
444: Mason Fine’s record for passing yards in a single game, set in week one this year against SMU, good for 5th best on the all-time list at UNT. 4th best is 478, set by Giovanni Vizza in 2007.
46: The combined number of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Paranormal Activity, Halloween, and Saw movies, which still isn’t as big a number as Mason Fine passing touchdowns this season— 56 (good for third on the all-time list).
197: The number of receiving yards Rico Bussey, Jr. will need to crack the top ten on UNT’s all-time list.
16: The highest margin of victory North Texas has ever claimed over Rice, winning 33-17 in 1988, then matching that feat again last year. Cracking this number would be nice, but Rice still owns the biggest blowout in this series, winning 77-20 in 2008.
2: The number of times we counted ‘Freddy vs. Jason’ in the above list, which someone on Twitter will definitely mention, so it’s good to get ahead of it. Did you know Rice’s mascot is named Sammy? Well, prepare for Sammy vs. Mason.
Besides the great offense, expect another solid performance from the Mean Green defense, and all eyes will be on special teams for anything like what we saw in the Arkansas game, which for this week only we will call the Fair Catch Project.
The Final Chapter
For all of UNT’s numbers, they’ve been shaky against UTEP and lost games they had a chance to win against both Louisiana Tech and UAB. Rice has been struggling for years, and the only reason they don’t get the bad rap that UTEP gets is because Rice is smart enough to schedule FCS squads. This one will not be a thriller.
Final Score: North Texas 42, Rice 10