Twitter was mean to me this week, and I deserved it.
On its surface, the math was simple: La Tech beat FIU. North Texas looked terrible in their loss to FIU. Ergo, North Texas would get their teeth kicked in by La Tech. There was nothing for the fans to do but look past the bye week to their FCS game on Sept. 30.
Then kickoff happened. North Texas looked... dare I say, scrappy?
They traded touchdowns in the first half, but UNT had something the Bulldogs didn't-- three field goals. Yeah, one of those was UNT's opening drive, where they marched down the field, secured a 1st and Goal on the 8-yard-line, and couldn't punch it in. But they had a lead, right? The optimists saw this as a fighting chance. The pessimists (me) sat back and waited for first-year FBS coach Eric Morris to blow it.
But the Mean Green continued to hold the lead. Even when the Bulldogs staged their (inevitable?) comeback in the 4th, scoring 23 points, UNT got the ball back and marched down the field. UNT made big plays and got within field goal range. UNT kicked that field goal-- more specifically, Noah Rauschenberg (nickname pending) split the uprights and secured UNT's 40-37 victory.
For the first three quarters, the Mean Green defense looked vastly improved from the porous mess it had been the previous week. The offense held. Chandler Rogers stayed in the whole game, going 24/40 for 313 yards, 2 TD's, and mercifully zero interceptions. The ground game amassed 249 yards on the day. They looked like a team.
It's been an interesting few weeks for UNT, as the first half against Cal in week one seemed like a real step forward-- then their next six quarters of football looked like a total collapse. This week they righted, or at least improved, the ship, and if they continue to improve, a handful of conference wins no longer seems out of reach.
Going into the bye week, there are reasons to be optimistic. Of course, this being college football, that can change on a dime.
But I hope I'm wrong about that, too.