FACTS & STATS: Site: Apogee Stadium (30,850) -- Denton, Texas. Television: Time Warner Cable. Home Record: UTSA 2-3, UNT 5-0. Away Record: UTSA 3-2, UNT 2-3. Neutral Record: UTSA 0-0, UNT 0-0. Conference Record: UTSA 4-2, UNT 5-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Just one win behind Rice for the top spot in the West Division of Conference USA, the North Texas Mean Green try to run their home win streak to six in a row as they clash with the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners on Saturday afternoon.
Since losing back-to-back games against Georgia and Tulane, the Mean Green have rattled off five straight victories, the latest of those coming on Nov. 9 versus Texas-El Paso in a 41-7 final. North Texas is now 7-3 on the season overall which makes it eligible to take part in the postseason.
As for the Roadrunners, they too are playing well of late with three consecutive wins, on the heals of three straight defeats. In addition to victories over UAB and Tulsa in what were spirited offensive outings, UTSA also pulled out a 10-7 win versus Tulane on Nov. 9 in order to move to 5-5 on the season overall and 4-2 in league play.
With this being just the third season for UTSA football, it should come as little surprise that this is the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The starter at quarterback in all 10 games for the Roadrunners this season, Eric Soza has completed 61.4 percent of his pass attempts for 217.4 ypg and 11 touchdowns, but at the same time he has tossed nine interceptions. Kam Jones might be the top receiver in terms of catches with 29, but he has just a single TD while starting only five of the nine games in which he has appeared.
Soza has certainly spread the wealth, as there are 20 players with at least one reception in 2013, but none have more than just two touchdowns at this stage.
On the ground there are four players with at least three TDs, the top performer there being David Glasco with 94 carries for 494 yards and five scores.
Over on the defensive side, Triston Wade paces the program with 75 tackles and has two of their six interceptions, while Codie Brooks checks in with five tackles for loss and five sacks to lead in both of those departments.
Clearly the Mean Green live and die with their running game, one that is averaging a healthy 172.6 ypg and has produced 23 touchdowns. Brandin Byrd heads the list with 720 yards on 144 attempts, leading to eight touchdowns, but not to be overlooked is quarterback Derek Thompson who currently ranks fourth on the unit with three rushing touchdowns of his own.
Unfortunately, the Mean Green might be without one of their better ball carriers as Reggie Pegram (338 yards, six TDs) is currently listed as questionable for this weekend due to a knee injury.
Thompson has completed close to 65 percent of his passes for 223.8 ypg, but he has almost as many INTs (11) as TDs (13), and that's all the more reason for North Texas to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible.
In terms of defense, the second half of games is generally better for this group as they've given up a combined 66 points in the final 30 minutes of action, compared to 73 points in the second quarter alone. Making a major impact for the unit is Zachary Orr, who is not only first with 96 tackles, but also first with four recovered fumbles and three forced. The squad has held foes to just 119.5 ypg on the ground, ranking them 16th nationally.
With only 18.6 ppg surrendered this season, tied for 10th-best in the country this week, the Mean Green are living up to their name and should continue to do so this weekend versus UTSA.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 34, Texas-San Antonio 17
Saturday, November 23, 3:30 p.m. (et).