Date: Saturday, September 8th
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. EST / 6:30 p.m. CST
Location: Apogee Stadium, Denton, Texas
Watch/Stream: ESPN+, which is offering a 7-day free trial.
Series Record: This is the first meeting between the schools
The Word on — North Texas
In case you missed it, our recap of UNT’s victory over SMU is available here. North Texas dominated that game, holding the Mustangs to no points at all until late in garbage time where even 23 points didn’t matter anymore.
For a single game stat-sheet, there’s a lot to love. The numbers on UNT’s side of the box score were bigger and better than the numbers of an AAC squad, which overall is pretty impressive no matter how certain members of that conference are currently doing.
With an improved defense and a solid returning corps of receivers, expect North Texas to look impressive again on Saturday. Also expect points, obviously, but there will be some things to watch that can clue us in on how this squad will do down the stretch.
For one, the defense. In 2017, the defense allowed nearly as many points as the offense scored, but the first week of this season, SMU couldn’t get a damn thing done. If SMU does turn out to be as solid a team under their new coach this year, then it stands to reason the Cardinals might not score at all this weekend, or maybe once or twice toward the end of the game. If, however, we see big scores from UIW throughout, then SMU was hardly the formidable opponent everyone thought they were.
Another thing to keep an eye on are the running backs. Yes, the Mean Green put up more yardage on the ground than they did a year ago, but the top two rushers for UNT had 31 yards apiece. It was a nice splash for Loren Easly (12 carries) and Nic Smith (17 carries), but that yardage total is cause for concern. Expect bigger numbers this weekend, but how much bigger will give some indication on what to expect as the season continues.
There’s no reason to sound any alarms yet, and this weeks game will tell us a lot about this North Texas squad. In the end, though, expect all units to be firing on all cylinders, and much like last years game against Lamar, it’ll be a fun one to watch.
If, on the other hand. you’re looking for blood, here’s a stat you can keep in mind— UIW’s all-time biggest loss to an FBS opponent was 66-0, to Fresno State in 2017.
The Word on — Incarnate Word
There’s a lot to like about this team.
For one, their head coach is Eric Morris, a former WR from Texas Tech who joined the Red Raiders staff as co-Offensive Coordinator in 2014 before taking over the job solo in 2015. This is his first year as head coach at Incarnate Word. In his first game against New Mexico last week, they put up 30 points on New Mexico, falling 62-30.
Another thing is their location. UIW is located in San Antonio, an FCS school in the shadow of their FBS brethren (and sistren), UTSA. North Texas knows a little something about that, after years of being ignored for larger, more traditional powers in their metro area. With a talent pool like Texas has, and with the sheer size of San Antonio, it’s a wonder this university didn’t even have a squad until 2009. After a few years in Division II, they made the jump to FCS in 2013, and joined the Southland Conference a year later.
Since then, they’ve had one winning season, but that coach was let go last year, and Morris was brought in. What heights will the Cardinals fly to now, with a new staff and a new outlook?
Well, they’ve got a solid foundation, with QB Jon Copeland throwing for 328 yards last week but rocking only about a 50% completion percentage. The Cardinals could also impress with RB’s Ra’Quanne Dickens and Ameer King, who both went over 100 yards last week after breaking free for some big plays.
It’s early yet, but come Saturday will be some good publicity for this team, and some great exposure in the DFW metroplex for a school many still aren’t familiar with.
Also, their Twitter account is kinda quiet, with only about 6000 followers, but a lot of fun when they do tweet. #StealthMode is a fantastic team hashtag.
The Word on— Conference USA
Any fan of the conference had big hopes coming into this season, and then we get to week one and only one team in the entire league wins a game against an FBS opponent by more than seven points— North Texas. We hope Week Two will be better for the conference as a whole, but after numbers like that in Denton last week, which game would you rather watch?
The Word on— the Southland Conference
It’s impossible to dislike North Texas AD Wren Baker, and after he took over a few years ago he made immediate changes to future UNT football scheduling, particularly adding local opponents from the Southland Conference, their local FCS neighbors with a footprint in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Last year UNT beat Lamar handily, next year will be Abilene Christian, followed by Houston Baptist in 2020. The upshot? Fun gameday atmosphere and an in-state match-up where the visiting team’s fans can easily attend.
The Final Word
The bottom line here is to expect a fun weekend in Denton, as attendees can check out local eateries and have a great gameday atmosphere in Apogee against two teams meeting for the first time. Denton’s a fun town to check out, but whether watching this game live or streaming,there will be nothing surprising about the final score. #StealthMode, meet #SethMode.
Final Score: North Texas 70, Incarnate Word 3