By Craig Fields
North Texas Mean Green vs. Marshall Thundering Herd
Saturday – October 24 – 2:30pm CT
Joan C. Edwards Stadium – Huntington, WV
The North Texas Mean Green (0-6, 0-3 C-USA) will be looking to secure their first win of the season when they play the Marshall Thundering Herd (6-1, 3-0 C-USA). UNT will need plenty of things to go right for them if they wish to upset arguably the best team in Conference USA.
There are a couple of things that top teams like Marshall and Western Kentucky do. And that is they stop their opponents from scoring. The basis of any good team is a good defense and Marshall has the best scoring defense in C-USA.
Allowing just 17.4 points a game, the Thundering Herd are very much like a stampede when coming after the quarterback and attacking the wide receivers. They only allow 190 passing yards a game. Even though they only manage 2.2 sacks a game, they have good size on the defensive line which forces quarterback pressures and allows the secondary to get interceptions. They are currently ranked 13th in the NCAAF with 10 interceptions.
For interim head coach Mike Canales and the UNT Mean Green, this game would be a massive step in the right direction if they could manage a victory. However, recent history is not with them because the Thundering Herd are incredibly hard to beat at home. Over the last three years they are 16-1 at home, which includes a win over Purdue this year.
Normally teams with quarterback problems or issues tend to be in for a long season. Replacing a four year starter who throws for over 14,000-yards in his career is hard to replace. I mean look at UNT and their struggles this season. However, the Thundering Herd lost Rakeem Cato to graduation and replaced their ineffective named starter after two games, and still find themselves at 6-1 this season.
Chase Litton replaced Michael Birdsong and seemed to be just the thing that the Thundering Herd needed. But quarterback play and passing the ball is not really the bell cow of this Marshall team. They currently average about 175 yards per game on the ground and have two very good running backs that can take over a game anytime they need to. Marshall also has one of the better offensive lines in C-USA and will be looking to impose their will on the small defensive line front of the Mean Green.
This game does not size up well for the Mean Green. One main thing that they have going for them is their new found quarterback DaMarcus Smith. He is a mobile guy who can make plays with his legs and his arm. On the move or standing in the pocket, Smith always has his head up looking downfield, ready to make a play.
The ground game for the Mean Green has not been that great this season, but will need to be a lot better in this game if the Mean Green hope to pull off the massive upset. Yes, I say massive upset because even though these teams are in the same conference, UNT is a 27-point underdog.
Canales might still be trying to figure out all of the weapons at his disposal. But the offense is definitely not the main problem that UNT has.
Their total defense is ranked 124 out of 127 teams in the FBS. I’m sorry but that is simply pitiful. If the Mean Green do not want to go 0-12 this season, then that side of the ball has to improve, and improve drastically.
Prediction: Marshall wins in another laugher, Marshall 56 – North Texas 21