The North Texas Mean Green will travel to Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Saturday evening to take on the SMU Mustangs in a non-conference matchup. The Mean Green are 1-0 after destroying the Northwestern State Demons 44-14. Junior quarterback Jace Ruder struggled in this game as he went 10-of-21 for 131 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. The Mustangs also won their season opener as they defeated the Abilene Christian Wildcats 56-9. Junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai had a career day as he went 24-of-30 for 317 yards with seven touchdowns in his SMU debut after transferring from Oklahoma.
This game shouldn’t be too competitive but we won’t actually know until the first kickoff happens. Let’s take a deeper dive into the Mean Green and the Mustangs to determine where we should be placing our bets.
Improving the Little Details for a Big ResultThe North Texas Mean Green need to be able to run the ball if they want to be an effective offensive team and they might be able to with senior running back DeAndre Torrey. He finished the opening game against the Northwestern State Demons and had 25 carries on 244 yards with three rushing touchdowns while adding a 12-yard reception in there for good measure. This was the first time in his entire collegiate career that he ran for at least 200 yards. If he can figure out how to stay hot on the ground, it will do wonders for their offensive team.
The North Texas Mean Green have been an overall good defensive team in the season opener against the Northwestern State Demons. They allowed 14 points, including pitching a shutout in the second half, but there is a lot of improvement needed. They struggled to get the opposing offense off the field as the Demons went 10-for-16 on third down and 1-for-2 on fourth down. They allowed 418 total yards of offense (157 passing, 261 rushing) but this defense has one number going their way: forcing turnovers. The Mean Green forced four turnovers (one interception, three fumble recoveries) and if they can continue to do so, they can pull off the upset here.
Mr. Gray Will See You NowThe SMU Mustangs offense has been doing well and it helps when you have a wide receiver senior Danny Gray. He finished the season opener with four catches for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He needs to be able to beat press coverage and beat his man if the Mustangs want to be successful in the passing game. If he can get open by any means necessary, SMU will be able to control drives and move the ball down the field.
The SMU Mustangs defense had a very good start to the season as they allowed just nine points against the Abilene Christian Wildcats and forced the Wildcats to go just 5-for-16 on third down and 1-for-2 on fourth down. They allowed 332 total yards (213 passing, 119 rushing) and they were able to make it into empty stats that cannot hurt them. If they can continue to force punts, they will be in a great spot here.