Date: Saturday, November 9, 2019
Kickoff Time: 3 p.m. CT
Location: Ruston, Louisiana
Stadium: Joe Aillet Stadium
Streaming: Stadium on Facebook
Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads 10-7
Betting Line: La Tech -5.5
Last Meeting: Louisiana Tech won 29-27 last year in Denton
Conference USA’s top two offenses are set to face off on Saturday.
The Bulldogs and Mean Green rank first and second respectively in C-USA in both yards per game and points per game. UNT has a slight edge in passing offense, while Tech typically does better on the ground.
Tech is in the driver’s seat in the west as the last remaining team without a conference loss, but the Bulldogs are entering the toughest stretch of their season. They need a win to remain in control.
UNT is in a different situation. The Mean Green are essentially out of the running for a title this year, but a bowl game is still on the table. To get there, however, they’ll need every win they can get. A win over Tech would be huge for UNT’s postseason hopes.
The Bulldogs are coming off of their second bye week for this game, and the first sure seemed to help them. Tech scored 156 points in its three games since the bye after scoring just 135 in the first five games of the season.
J’Mar Smith is on pace to have his best season this year. The senior quarterback has thrown for 2,220 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2019. Most importantly, he’s protecting the ball. After throwing 10 interceptions last season, he’s only thrown three so far this year.
Running back Justin Henderson is also a scoring machine for the Bulldogs. Tech’s leading rusher has scored 12 touchdowns, including at least one in six of Tech’s eight games. Henderson has scored multiple touchdowns in the last three games and four of the last five.
As for UNT, while the Mean Green have done well at home, they haven’t won a road game yet this season. They’ve had close games against teams like Cal and Charlotte, but no wins.
But while the Mean Green have had struggles, their passing game hasn’t been one of them. Mason Fine is seventh in the nation with 2,609 passing yards. He’s also tied for third nationally with 27 touchdown passes, which is tops among Group of 5 quarterbacks.
UNT’s other big weapon is wide receiver Jaelon Darden. The junior leads the team with 639 yards and 11 touchdown receptions. Additionally, running back Tre Siggers has been a huge if inconsistent asset. He’s racked up 715 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season but was held to only 82 yards last week against UTEP.
The Bulldogs have enjoyed success in the state of Texas since joining C-USA. After a rough first season, Tech has gone 21-1 against the four C-USA teams in the Lone Star State. The only loss? That was to none other than UNT the last time the Mean Green traveled to the Joe.
In fact, while Tech is 3-0 in Apogee Stadium, the Bulldogs are just 1-2 in Ruston against UNT since joining C-USA.
While both teams can move the ball and score, the difference should be in the defenses. Tech is allowing 23.6 points per game, which ranks third in C-USA. UNT allows 32.4, which ranks 11th.
The Mean Green will certainly have their work cut out for them as they try to outscore the Bulldogs on the road. Still, the last two meetings have been decided by a combined three points, so we could be in for another memorable showdown nonetheless.