Date: Saturday September 23, 2017
Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. EST / 5:30 p.m. CST
Location: Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX
TV: BeIn Sports
Streaming: BeIn Sports
Line: North Texas -13, O/U 60.5
Series Record: UAB leads 2-0
Last Meeting: UAB won 56-21 back in 2014. This is their first meeting as division rivals.
Conference play begins, and we couldn’t be happier. For UAB fans, this is their first game in their new division, as they return to football and get to know C-USA West. For UNT fans, it’s time to show some of that newfound swagger after putting up a fight against Iowa last week.
Coming into the game at 2-1, UAB has wins over an FCS opponent (Alabama A&M) and a Sun Belt opponent (Coastal Carolina), their lone loss is to the MAC’s Ball State. The FCS team aside, they put up a great fight against their SBC opponent, going neck-and-neck in passing yards while getting outgained on the ground, 227-169. Still, the scrappy Blazers found a way to win, and are getting better every week. There’s not really a precedent for a team coming back from oblivion directly into FBS play, but the Blazers have been competitive enough over three games that we know that, long term, everything’s gonna be alright.
In UAB’s final season before their hiatus, they went 6-6 and were denied for a bowl game. Had they picked up again the very next year, there’s every reason to believe they would have continued that upward trajectory, locked in a bowl berth, and finally had a coaching staff worth keeping around. Sadly, this team is not that team, and in their first year back, they’ll have to deal with some growing pains as the team continues to click.
Over three games, UAB’s top players have been QB A.J. Erdely, who’ll come into this game with 422 yards passing and a 56.9% completion rate, and RB Spencer Brown, with 244 rushing yards this season. As an added bonus, UAB’s second leading rusher is Erdely, who has already run for 136 yards through three games. In that span, only one WR—junior Andre Wilson— has over a 100 yards receiving. This is a rebuilding team, and while they’re doing a lot better than a team that is entirely new to the FBS level, they are not quite yet the team that went 6-6 three years ago.
Did You Know? A win today will bring coach Bill Clark to 20 wins all time as a college head coach. A loss would drop UAB to 0-2 on the road, while being 2-0 at home.
Coming into the game at 1-2, the Mean Green have been far more impressive in their losses than UAB has been in their wins. In their 22-point loss to SMU, Mason Fine still threw for over 400 yards. In their 17-point loss to Iowa, UNT led late in the third quarter.
Over three games, UNT’s top players have undeniably been QB Mason Fine, who’ll come into the game with 815 passing yards and a 67.0% completion rate, and RB Jeffrey Wilson, with 307 rushing yards. Where UAB has only a single player with 100+ yards receiving, the Mean Green have three— Jalen Guyton (185 yards), Michael Lawrence (179 yards), and Turner Smiley (158 yards). UNT’s 4th leading receiver, Jaelon Darden, has 98 yards receiving so far this year. UAB’s top receiver has 101.
All this coupled with defensive adjustments between the SMU game to the Iowa game, the latter of which UNT went toe-to-toe with the Hawkeyes O-line for three quarters, forcing mistakes and capitalizing on penalties. UNT hasn’t been a force to be reckoned with since 2004, and while the buzz is still soft compared to other C-USA teams, this squad proved last week that they were for real. This week, the conference will start to take notice.
Did You Know? Per Winsipedia.com, North Texas comes into this game with 499 all-time wins for their program. Another reason for fans in Denton to turn out to Apogee Stadium on Saturday.
The Bottom Line
UNT leads UAB in every statistical category and has played far and away a tougher schedule. This plus years of experience watching C-USA games have taught us that UAB could still win by two touchdowns and nobody would bat an eye.
These teams match up well, and neither could ask for a better opponent to open conference play. Both teams attack heavily through the air and are understaffed at RB, despite having one or two go-to options. Both are rebuilding, but UNT is at least a year ahead. UAB will be a fun rival in the coming years, but in 2017, it’s just too soon. UAB has averaged 33 points a game so far, but UNT’s defense will prove too much on Saturday.
Final Score: UNT 38, UAB 24