Sept. 6, 2014 was an interesting day for both North Texas and SMU. After the Mean Green drummed the Mustangs 43-6 at Apogee Stadium, Denton was buzzing. Coming into that game, North Texas was just 4-28-1 all-time against its cross town rivals. Finally, it had gotten the upper in hand in the first meeting between the two since 2007.
SMU, meanwhile, was reeling. Before the North Texas embarrassment, the Mustangs had been shutout 45-0 by Baylor the week prior. The only points they had scored was on a last second, desperation touchdown pass at the end of the North Texas game to avoid being shutout for the second consecutive week. June Jones resigned a few days later, and the team ended up going 1-11.
The team's will play each other again on Sept. 12, and play each other every year until 2025. Over the next 10 years, this has a chance to grow into a bigger rivalry than it already is, and it's going to be of the utmost importance for both teams to beat the other.
Why? Look no further than recruiting and where the team's are located.
The DFW metroplex is a hotbed of football talent, and that's an understatement. Look at North Texas' roster, and almost every single kid is from Texas, and most of those come from DFW area high schools. That has been a big part of Dan McCarney's recruiting philosophy, as it should be.
New SMU coach Chad Morris has Texas high school football ties, and has maintained that a big part of rebuilding the program will be through recruiting players from Texas and the DFW area. It's going to be tough for both teams to get the big time four and five star recruits, but both will surely be competing for three star recruits that can make a difference on their respective teams. How do you swing a player who might be interested in both schools? Part of it is winning consistently, which both teams have struggled to accomplish, but the other part comes from beating the other.
Plus, this is a legitimate rivalry, even though it has been one-sided with the exception of last year. The fan bases can very easily invade each other's stadiums considering how class they are to each other.
North Texas doesn't have many true rivals within Conference USA, but there are a few match ups, like Rice and UTSA, that could bubble into a true rivalry. Consider how often these teams are going to play each other over the next few years, SMU and North Texas could develop into a big time rivalry, especially if the Mean Green start beating the Mustangs on a consistent basis. This isn't just a non-conference game that doesn't mean much within the grand scheme of things. McCarney has expressed how important this matchup is, and Morris will likely echo the same thoughts when the game in September draws closer.
For North Texas, beating SMU in the second game of the Morris-era and for years to come could do great things for the program. The Mustangs surely want to get back to beating the Mean Green, and beating them consistently like they used to.
From a North Texas perspective, that can't happen. The Mean Green need to make sure it stays competitive, and wins it's fair share of games against the Mustangs over the next 10 years. Beating your rivals does nothing but help. Losing just sets everything back. And the Mean Green can't afford that.