By Craig Fields
North Texas Mean Green vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday – November 14 – 11:00 am CT
Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, Tennessee
The North Texas Mean Green (1-8) will be taking on the Tennessee Volunteers (5-4) in a game that means way more for one team than the other. The Volunteers will be looking to become bowl eligible for the second straight year under head coach Butch Jones.
Even though the Volunteers are 5-4 on the season, far from the record they would like to have, their offense has proven itself to be somewhat dominant this year. They are averaging about 423 total yards per game, including a strong rushing attack that averages about 210 yards per game led by sophomore Jalen Hurd.
The 6’4 240-pound running back has been running over the opposition all season long, and will look to gash a Mean Green defense that is one of the worst in college football. Unfortunately UNT’s defense will also have to deal with dual threat quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
The junior quarterback leads a pretty middle of the road passing attack that ranks 49th in the nation at 215 yards per game, but he is great at making good decisions with the ball and making plays with his legs.
He is the second leading rusher on the team, and while he does like to make plays with his legs, he can also make all the throws from the pocket. The 30-yard out route and timing routes between he and his receivers are passes that are routinely completed by this team. The Mean Green front seven will have the tall task of bottling up one of the more dynamic quarterbacks in college football and keeping him one dimensional.
If there is a silver lining for UNT, it’s that the Volunteers defense is a little suspect. They currently give up over 400 yards of offense to their opposition. Their opponents may be able to move the ball, but the defense has more of a bend but not break mentality. They only give up about 24 points a game.
UNT running back Jeffrey Wilson will need to find the century mark and then some if they want this game to be competitive. Unfortunately for them, quarterback, DeMarcus Smith will need to be far more accurate with his passes to open up a few lanes for Wilson.
Smith is completing 47.1% of his passes. That number needs to improve drastically in this game if this team wants to keep the Volunteers honest on defense. The size that the Volunteers has up front will already be a problem for North Texas’ undersized line. Smith will need to keep them on their toes by getting the ball out quickly and completing those type of passes to ALL of his receivers, not just Carlos Harris.
Smith, like Dobbs, has the ability to escape the pocket, extend plays, and pick up yards with his legs. But Smith, unlike Dobbs, does not have the same caliber of weapons around him. It is for that reason the Mean Green will find themselves unable to win this game or even keep it close.
Prediction: Tennessee 45 – North Texas 13