Date: Saturday October 12, 2019
Kickoff Time: 6 p.m. CST
Location: M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS
TV/Streaming: No TV. Catch the live stream on Facebook.
Line: Southern Miss -3, O/U 58.5
Series Record: North Texas leads, 7-6.
Last Meeting: North Texas won 30-7 last year in Denton.
In spite of a 2-3 record, the Mean Green come into this game 1-0 in conference and with high-flying performances from the offense. Even in their losses, UNT put up solid numbers against the likes of Cal and Houston, bookends to the thrashing they put on UTSA three weeks ago.
Through five games, Mason Fine has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 1,291 yards, leading the offense to average 33 points a game. Running back Tre Siggers, meanwhile, has been a gift, energizing the run game with 480 yards and four touchdowns over only four games (Siggers didn’t play in week one against FCS Abilene Christian).
After a humbling performance against Houston two weeks ago, and coming off a bye week, the Mean Green offense will be fine-tuned and ready to begin conference play in earnest this week.
The tape doesn’t lie, and in this case, the tape tells an interesting truth: Over five games, both the Mean Green and Southern Miss have allowed an average of 30.4 points per game.
But these teams are hardly evenly matched, as North Texas has defended both the pass and the run about evenly this season, giving up 189.2 yards in the air and 189 yards on the ground, over these five games. Despite the high number of points, the Mean Green defense hits hard and will show some of that aggressiveness against the Golden Eagles on Saturday.
Southern Miss has a lot to feel good about, coming into this game. Fresh from a bye week, the Golden Eagles have the better record (3-2 (1-0)), and a quarterback who has put up even bigger numbers than Mason Fine.
Jack Abraham, only a junior, has amassed 1,515 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season, despite the two losses coming from stiff SEC competition. In week three against Troy, Abraham threw for 463 yards in an offensive shoot-out, showing the Trojans (and the world) what Southern Miss is capable of when things go their way.
Challenging the Mean Green defense will be top wide receivers Jordan Mitchell (369 yards, three touchdowns on the season), Quez Watkins (27.5 YPC average), and Jaylond Adams (332 yards, two touchdowns), as the Golden Eagles will also attempt to punch up their running game, leading with De’Michael Harris (176 yards and a touchdown on 39 carries).
The Golden Eagles will have their work cut out for them, and they’ll need to score on both the ground and the air if they want to shut down the Mean Green, and compete for a C-USA West title.
The Southern Miss defense has been dominant against the run, giving up an average of only 123.2 yards a game this year. That might be enough to slow down UNT’s Siggers, but it’s the average of 267 yards given up in the air that might be a problem for this squad.
As the day wears on, and the players get tired, we’ll find out if those numbers are an accurate representation, or just inflated by having Bama on their schedule three weeks ago.
There’s a lot to love about this game. Two explosive quarterbacks, two strong defenses, and two head coaches who have had a few years now to fine-tune their squad, as previously recruited players graduate away, leaving room for the new blood.
The game being in USM’s house doesn’t hurt, but at the end of the day those “points allowed” by air will likely sink the Golden Eagles, as Mason Fine will take advantage of any and every opportunity to break out big plays. Jack Abraham is an incredible quarterback, and will deserve all of his post-season accolades, but North Texas is the more complete team by now, and since taking over at UNT, Seth Littrell has never lost to Southern Miss, winning by more points every year, over the last three years.
Final Score: North Texas 45, Southern Miss 28