For the first time in 23 years, North Texas has started a season with two wins after a 58-16 victory over Incarnate Word on Saturday night at Apogee Stadium. The Mean Green thumped rival SMU 46-23 last week to start the season.
The last time the Mean Green reached 2-0, UNT was playing in Division I-AA, which is known as the FCS today. The last time the Mean Green accomplished the feat in the FBS was 1975, when UNT began the season with a win against UT-Arlington, which no longer has a football program, at Texas Stadium in Irving.
UNT technically went 10-1 in 1977, losing only to then-No. 20 Florida State late in the season. The Mean Green started the campaign with a loss to then-No. 16 Mississippi State, but the victory was later forfeited in UNT’s favor. So it’s up to you which year you want to count, but either way, it’s been awhile since the Mean Green have been 2-0.
UNT running back DeAndre Torrey found the end zone three times, all from 1 yard away, in his first career start Saturday. Torrey also tallied 44 yards on 16 rushes, averaging only 2.8 yards a carry.
This is Torrey’s first season with the Mean Green after transferring from Gulf Coast Junior College. He returned a kickoff for a 96-yard touchdown last week in his UNT debut.
No. 6, UNT quarterback Mason Fine, was the best player on the field Saturday night at Apogee Stadium. And last week against SMU, too.
Fine threw for 418 yards Saturday night after tallying 444 against SMU, becoming the first UNT quarterback to ever record back-to-back 400-yard performances. The two games put his early season total at 862 passing yards, third in the country to only Hawai’i’s Cole McDonald and Colorado State’s K.J. Carta-Samuels, who have both played in one more game than Fine after competing in Week 0. However, Fine’s 431 passing yards a game does lead the FBS.
Fine also made another jump in the UNT record book Saturday night, going from fifth to third for career completions with 543.
UNT kicker Cole Hedlund is perfect with seven field goals through two games, which is tied for the best in the country.
Hedlund, a graduate transfer, made his Mean Green debut last week with four makes, including a career-high 51-yarder. He also had makes of 41, 40 and 18 yards.
Saturday, Hedlund nailed field goals from 29, 27 and 25 yards away.
Hedlund is also 11-for-11 on PATs this season, bringing his streak to 102 makes, meaning he’s never missed a PAT in his four-year career.
With most great passing outings come a stellar receiving performance, and Rico Bussey Jr. did just that Saturday night on his way to a career-high 128 receiving yards.
Bussey caught eight passes, three of which were touchdowns against UIW. His first score was a 13-yard reception late in the second quarter. He then caught back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter of 35 and 3 yards, respectively.
The 35-yard connection between Fine and Bussey was the play of the night, as Fine threw a dime over a defender and Bussey’s shoulder as Bussey caught the pass and managed to get a foot in bounds for the touchdown.