Middle Tennessee (2-9) at North Texas (4-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 3rd, 4:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Apogee Stadium (30,850) -- Denton, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: MTSU 1-5, NT 3-2. Away Record: MTSU 1-4, NT 1-5. Neutral Record: MTSU 0-0, NT 0-0. Conference Record: MTSU 1-6, NT 3-4. Series Record: Series North Texas leads, 6-4.
GAME NOTES: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders head to Denton to close out their season against the North Texas Mean Green.
The Blue Raiders have had a disappointing season and are currently riding a five-game losing streak into their finale. Coach Rick Stockstill's optimism after 2010's 5-6 finish disappeared quickly as Middle Tennessee struggled this year.
North Texas's 4-7 record is not terrible considering the program's struggles in recent years. A win over Middle Tennessee would give the Mean Green their best record and most wins in a single season since 2004. Dan McCarney is one win away from the most wins by a first year head coach at North Texas since 1994.
This will be the 11th all-time meeting between Middle Tennessee and North Texas. The series, which began in 2001, is led by the Mean Green 6-4. North Texas won last year's battle in Murfreesboro 23-17, but the Blue Raiders are 3-2 against North Texas in Denton.
Logan Kilgore has been the leader of the Blue Raiders' offense this season. The offense is ranked second in the conference in total yards of offense but fifth in scoring offense. Kilgore has been a decent signal caller this season. The sophomore has thrown for 2189 yards and 18 touchdowns, but has also thrown 12 interceptions. Kilgore returned last week after missing the Arkansas State game to throw for 147 yards as he completed 10-of-19 attempts. Kilgore has had a decent amount of time to throw the ball this year as Middle Tennessee is ranked second in the nation in sacks allowed.
One reason for Middle Tennessee's troubles was the absence of starting halfback Benny Cunningham for the heart of the schedule. Cunningham returned to the lineup on November 12th after missing four straight games. The junior running back rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in his last outing against FIU's aggressive rush defense. Sophomore Kyle Griswould had a break out performance against the Panthers as he eclipsed the 100-receiving yard mark for the first time in his career. Griswould caught four passes for 104 yards in the loss.
Middle Tennessee's defense has been a doormat all season. The Blue Raiders' defensive unit is ranked 101th in the nation in total defense and 105th in the nation in scoring defense. The Blue Raiders are coming off of a decent defensive performance as they held FIU to 324 yards of total offense, however Middle Tennessee proved its weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball the week before as it allowed Arkansas State to game 536 yards of total offense on its way to 45 points. Eric Russell leads the defense as he has tallied 83 tackles this season.
North Texas's main offensive weapon the last few seasons has been Lance Dunbar. The star running back recently became the 25th player in NCAA history with 3,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a career. Dunbar is just 89 yards shy of becoming only the sixth player in NCAA history to have 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a career.
Dunbar has a chance to become the school's all time leading rusher against Middle Tennessee. The senior tailback is 140 yards away from Patrick Cobbs' rushing record. With the game being basically meaningless, expect McCarney to do everything he can to help Dunbar cement himself even further in the program's history.
North Texas had a treacherous start to the year but has since rebounded slightly since entering conference play. This is due to the improved play of Derek Thompson. The sophomore quarterback looked like he was on his way out of the starting lineup before surprising everyone with 332 passing yards and three touchdowns against ULM. Thompson missed most of the next game due to injury, but returned to throw for 331 yards in his next outing against Troy before throwing for 254 yards in his last outing against Western Kentucky. Thompson has given North Texas a future to look forward to with the departure of Dunbar looming.
North Texas's defense is no better than its counterpart's in this one. The Mean Green have allowed their opponents to score at will this season with few exceptions. North Texas is 3-0 when holding its opponents under 30 points this season.
With little defense and talent on both offenses, this one will be a high- scoring affair. Whichever team cam produce points and not turnovers should walk away the victory. Expect to see a heavy dose of Dunbar as he inches towards the top of North Texas's record books.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 34, Middle Tennessee 28
11/30 11:39:17 ET