The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5-1, 3-0) will travel to face the North Texas Mean Green (0-5, 0-2) in a Conference USA matchup Thursday night. Western Kentucky has won the last two meetings, including a 25-24 win on November 24, 2012 in the most recent matchup. North Texas covered the line in that game as an 11 point underdog.
Western Kentucky crushed Middle Tennessee 58-28 in their last game at home for their third consecutive victory. North Texas was absolutely embarrassed as they were obliterated 66-7 by FCS school Portland State Saturday. This game kicks off at 7:30 pm ET from Mean Green Stadium in Denton, Texas and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Western Kentucky is currently a hefty 32.5 point favorite in this contest.
Western Kentucky has outscored their last three opponents by a combined 163-52, scoring at least 49 points in each contest. The Hilltoppers scored on eight of their first ten possessions in the game, cruising to a 52-14 halftime edge before taking their foot off the gas in the second half. Western Kentucky easily overcame two turnovers as they forced a pair of Middle Tennessee turnovers while outgaining the Blue Raiders 593-419 in the contest. The Hilltoppers dominated time of possession 35:07 to 24:53 while picking up 24 first downs.
The Hilltoppers boast the 3rd most prolific passing offense in the country as they average 408.3 yards per game through the air, more than offsetting the fact that they are 120th in rushing offense with 102.5 yards per game; those numbers help contribute to Western Kentucky scoring 42 points a game, tied for 20th in the nation. Brandon Doughty has been dominant under center, completing 74.7 percent of his throws for 2,359 yards, 20 TD and 3 INT while averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt. That helps make up for a run game that averages 3.3 yards per carry: D’Andre Ferby leads the teams with 86 carries for 317 yards and six scores while Anthony Wales has 22 carries for 120 yards. That duo has to produce with Leon Allen (27 carries, 137 yards, 2 TD) done for the year. Five players have hauled in at least 22 passes for the Hilltoppers: Taywan Taylor leads the team with 38 receptions for 691 yards and eight scores. Jared Dangerfield (36 catches, 387 yards, 4 TD), Tyler Higbee (30 grabs, 459 yards, 6 TD), Nicholas Norris (22 receptions, 445 yards, TD) and Antwane Grant (22 catches, 259 yards, 2 TD) are part of a plethora of riches at the skill positions. Garrett Schwettman has hit all 32 extra points and seven of eight extra points.
North Texas was shredded by a FCS program over the weekend and it cost Dan McCarney his job; he was fired after the game with Mike Canales named interim coach for the second time. He was 2-3 in that role in 2010. The Mean Green was outgained 670-198 in the game and didn’t get on the scoreboard until just 1:02 remained in the contest to avoid the shutout. North Texas allowed Portland State to run for 368 yards and six scores while allowing eight yards per carry. The game was an embarrassment and showed how far North Texas has fallen.
The Mean Green is dismal offensively as they are 101st in passing offense with an average of 185.4 yards per game and 97th in rushing by putting up 146.2 yards per contest. North Texas is getting outscored on average by five touchdowns a game as they are scoring 14 points per game while ranking second worst in FBS by allowing 49.2 points a game; only Texas State (49.4 points per game) is worse. Three quarterbacks have seen action this season and they’ve struggled: they have combined to complete 44.3 percent of their throws for 927 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions while averaging 5.01 yards per pass attempt. Jeffery Wilson leads the Mean Green with 45 carries for 259 yards while Antoinne Jimerson has 55 carries for 211 yards and a touchdown. Carlos Harris leads the Mean Green with 36 receptions for 469 yards and four scores; Marcus Smith is next in line with his 11 grabs for 106 yards. Trevor Moore has hit all eight extra points and is 6 of 9 on field goals though he doesn’t have a kick longer than 38 yards.
Western Kentucky is 5-0 ATS in their last five conference games, 4-0 ATS in their last four after a straight up win by at least 20 points, 4-1 ATS in their last five overall, 4-1 ATS in their last five on fieldturf and 6-2 ATS in their last eight on Thursday. North Texas is 11-28 ATS in their last 39 at home against teams with a winning record, 2-6 ATS in their last eight at home against teams with a winning road record, 2-8 ATS in their last 10 conference games, 0-4 ATS in their last four after a straight up loss, 0-4 ATS in their last four after an ATS loss, 0-6 ATS in their last six after a straight up loss of at least 20 points, 0-6 ATS in their last six in October, 0-6 ATS in their last six overall and 0-4 ATS in their last four on fieldturf.
This game will be a blowout. Western Kentucky is firing on all cylinders right now while North Texas is a fifty car pileup of a mess that won’t be unsnarled any time soon. The Hilltoppers are scoring at will and we just saw North Texas give up 66 points and 670 yards to a FCS program. There’s no reason to even remotely consider the Mean Green, even getting this many points. They should easily lose by 50 and I’d be surprised if Western Kentucky didn’t hit the 60 point mark.