By Craig Fields
Portland State Vikings vs. North Texas Mean Green
Saturday – October 10 – 4:00 pm CT
Apogee Stadium – Denton
Homecoming week for any college is normally full of different events and activities dedicated to get its student body into the “school spirit”. Normally the homecoming festivities are wrapped up by attending the football game usually held on Saturday.
With the UNT Mean Green (0-4, 0-1 Home) unable to get a win so far this season, it looks like homecoming will be just what the doctor ordered for this struggling group. A little home cooking and crowd support could do wonders for this team to lift their spirits in a game where they look over matched yet again.
The Mean Green will be taking on the Portland State Vikings (3-1, 2-0 Away) in a game that means a lot more to UNT than it does to Portland. UNT will be looking to get its first win in hopes of saving a season that looks like it is pretty much dead already.
To do that, the Mean Green will need to look out for and contain Vikings quarterback Alex Kuresa. He is not a prototypical quarterback but can still make plays for his team. He only averages about 110 passing yards per game, but do not let the low numbers fool you. He is also the leading rusher for his team at just over 65-yards per game.
There is no doubt that with as deficient as the offense is, Kuresa will be involved in just about every play either passing or running. With this being the case, the Mean Green defense will need to know where Kuresa is at all times and try to keep him bottled up in the pocket when applying pressure.
Another thing about the Vikings is that they have pretty good size on the lines of both sides of the ball. That is a fact that was not lost on head coach Dan McCarney who made mention of it earlier this week. The Mean Green defensive coordinator might have to dial up more blitzes this week to get to the quarterback because one-on-one battles will probably go the Vikings way.
Portland State is a good defensive team. They are holding opponents to about 13 points per game, and actually shut out Western Oregon in a game earlier this season. UNT has to be sure not to look past these guys because they are an FCS team.
UNT is an FBS team, which is a step up from the FCS talent pool traditionally, but this game will probably prove difficult for the Mean Green. The main reason is the influx of FBS talent that Portland State received from different transfers.
According to Brett Vito, beat writer for the Mean Green, the Vikings have kids who transferred from big time programs like Arizona, Oregon State, UCLA and Indiana etc. Even though UNT is suppose to win this game, these players will be coming in with something to prove.
For the Mean Green to pull off the win, they will need to be able to pass the ball, and pass the ball well. Of course if they want that to happen, then Andrew McNulty of Andy Mac as he is affectionately called by coach McCarney, will need to be at his best.
His best game this season came at home when the Mean Green lost to the Rice Owls. Whether it was the familiarity of his surroundings, or the level of competition, for whatever reason, McNulty had his best game at Apogee stadium.
The coaches and players will be hoping for him to tap into that again on Saturday. The Mean Green are 16-8 all time at Apogee stadium. McCarney preaches playing with pride and urgency in front of the home crowd. Attendance was not good at the last home game. McCarney and company just have to hope that there is a decent sized crowd to play with pride in front of.
With that being said, this game is a coin flip. This is definitely UNT’s best chance at winning a game this year. Who knows, if they win; it might actually jump start a turnaround to what has been a pretty dismal season so far.
Prediction: Mean Green 31 – Vikings 28