The North Texas Mean Green (1-7, 1-4) will travel to face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (6-3, 4-1) in a Conference USA West Division matchup Saturday afternoon. Louisiana Tech has won five of the previous seven meetings dating back to 1985; the Bulldogs took a 42-21 win as a 3 point underdog on the road on September 11, 2014 in the most recent meeting between the teams.
North Texas picked up their first win of the season as they upended UTSA 30-23 last week at home. Louisiana Tech has won two straight and five of six after rolling over Rice 42-17 last Friday on the road. The game kicks off at 3:30 pm ET from Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston, Louisiana and will not be televised nationally. Louisiana Tech is currently a 30 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 63 points.
North Texas came up with several defensive plays to come up with their first win of the year over UTSA. The Mean Green scored on a fumble return in the third quarter and added a defensive two point conversion by blocking an extra point and returning for a score. North Texas prevailed despite being outgained 475-371, gave up 31 first downs while recording 20 of their own and was dominated on time of possession by a 37:36 to 22:24 margin. Both teams committed a turnover but DaMarcus Smith’s 1 yard scoring run with 7:51 to play proved to be the winning score.
The Mean Green is dismal offensively as they are 110th in passing offense with an average of 173.4 yards per game and 63rd in rushing by putting up 176.3 yards per contest. North Texas is getting outscored on average by nearly five touchdowns a game as they are scoring 18.1 points per game, putting them tied for 124th in scoring offense while ranking as the fourth worst scoring defense in the FBS by allowing 44.3 points per game. Three quarterbacks have seen action this season and they’ve struggled: they have combined to complete 44.8 percent of their throws for 1,387 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions while averaging 4.97 yards per pass attempt. They may have found something with DaMarcus Smith, who, while he’s 49 of 112 on the season for 565 yards with six touchdowns and three picks plus 310 rushing yards and a score, put up four scoring passes against Western Kentucky. Jeffery Wilson leads the Mean Green with 98 carries for 616 yards and a touchdown while Antoinne Jimerson has 58 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown. Carlos Harris leads the Mean Green with 48 receptions for 594 yards and six scores; Marcus Smith is next in line with his 18 grabs for 167 yards. Trevor Moore has hit all 17 extra points and is 8 of 12 on field goals though he doesn’t have a kick longer than 38 yards.
Louisiana Tech jumped to a 28-7 halftime lead and never looked back as they cooked Rice. The Bulldogs outgained the Owls 455-281 and picked up 21 first downs while allowing 15 in the contest; neither team committed a turnover and time of possession was pretty even with Rice holding a 30:25 to 29:35 edge in that department. Louisiana Tech pulled away from a 7-7 tie by scoring the next 28 points in the contest and keeping the Owls off the board again until late in the third quarter to put the game away.
The Bulldogs have a terrific offensive unit as they are 16th (316.6 yards) in passing offense and tied for 80th (161.7 yards per game) in rushing offense this season. Louisiana Tech is tied for 16th in the nation in scoring offense as they average 38.2 points per game though they are only tied for 59th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 26.1 points per game. Former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has connected on 198 of 320 passes for 2,736 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions while ranking second on the team with 243 yards and five scores. Kenneth Dixon is the top ground gainer for Louisiana Tech as he has run the ball 127 times for 738 yards with 11 scores; if he needs a breather, Jarred Craft (58 carries, 230 yards, TD) is next in line. Seven players have double digit receptions for Louisiana Tech this season; Trent Taylor is far and away the leading receiver with 72 grabs for 1,003 yards and seven scores while no other Bulldogs player has more than Paul Turner’s (369 yards, 3 TD) 28 receptions. Dixon has caught 19 passes out of the backfield while Carlos Henderson (22 receptions, 421 yards, 3 TD) and Kameron McKnight (20 grabs, 231 yards) are good secondary options. Jonathan Barnes has hit all 42 extra points and 16 of 19 field goal attempts on the year.
Louisiana Tech is 4-0 ATS in their last four at home against teams with a losing road record, 6-1 ATS in their last seven at home and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 on fieldturf. North Texas is 5-11 ATS in their last 16 overall, 1-9 ATS in their last 10 on the road and 0-4 ATS in their last four after a straight up win.
The Bulldogs are playing extremely well offensively this season and they get a North Texas team that can’t score or stop opposing teams from putting points on the board. Louisiana Tech is capable of blowing the doors off most teams and it’s easy to foresee this one take the road of a one sided game. Give the points as Louisiana Tech crushes the Mean Green in this one.