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North Texas (7-4) at Tulsa (3-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: H.A. Chapman Stadium (30,000) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: Fox Sports Net. Home Record: NT 5-1, Tulsa 2-5. Away Record: NT 2-3, Tulsa 1-4. Neutral Record: NT 0-0, Tulsa 2-4. Conference Record: NT 5-2, Tulsa 2-5. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 17-6.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green are still holding out hope for a Conference USA West Division title, as they close out the regular season this weekend on the road at Tulsa.
Dan McCarney's Mean Green had a five-game win streak snapped last weekend at UTSA and at 5-2 in conference play, they need to win this game and have Rice lose in its season finale to claim a share of the division crown.
Bill Blankenship's Golden Hurricane won the C-USA title in 2012, but that seems like an eon ago, as Tulsa has struggled to a 3-8 mark this season, including just 2-5 in conference play. The team did however, bring an end to a four-game skid with last weekend's 24-14 win over Louisiana Tech.
This marks the 24th all-time meeting in this series, with Tulsa holding a 17-6 advantage.
The Mean Green have depended on a stout defensive effort each week, but the offense has certainly had its fair share of successes. North Texas comes into the finale averaging 30.5 ppg and doing so on nearly 400 yards of total offense (399.9). The ground game has managed 166.5 ypg, while the pass churns out 232.5.
Senior QB Derek Thompson has handled the majority of the duties under center and has completed 63.8 percent of his passes, for 2,467 yards. However, he has only 14 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions.
The receiving corps is highlighted by a trio of productive players in seniors Darnell Smith (62 catches, 665 yards, 3 TDs) and Brelan Chancellor (42 catches, 682 yards, 4 TDs) and sophomore Carlos Harris (41 catches, 491 yards, 2 TDs).
Senior tailback Brandin Byrd has handled most of the carries on the ground and has shown flashes of brilliant play. while amassing 772 yards (4.9 ypc) and eight touchdowns.
North Texas has really excelled on the other side of the football, allowing just 18.8 ppg (11th nationally) on 366.4 yards per game. The team is also fourth in the nation in red zone defense. The unit has big play ability with 32 sacks and 30 takeaways on the season.
Senior middle linebacker Zachary Orr leads the squad with 106 total tackles, with 10.0 TFL. H is also tops on the team with three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Senior safety Marcus Trice (77 tackles) is a ball hawk in the secondary with five interceptions and one fumble recovery. Senior end Aaron Bellazin (30 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks) is the player to watch along the defensive line.
Tulsa hasn't exactly been an offensive juggernaut this season, with modest averages of 22.1 ppg and 367.1 yards per game.
The team's top weapon is senior tailback Trey Watts, who is averaging 110.5 yards per game, having amassed 1,215 yards and 11 TDs on 4.9 yards per carry. Watts also pulls double-duty as the team's top receiver, having caught 46 balls, for 395 yards and one more score.
Freshman quarterback Dane Evans gets the nod under center. He has started four games this year and has had his growing pains, completing just 43.9 percent of his throws for 822 yards, with just four TDs and 10 INTs. Senior Cody Green has started the other seven games, and has fared better with 1,312 yards, seven TDs and six picks, but he is nursing a knee injury and is listed as questionable for this game.
Senior Jordan James is behind only Watts in receiving, with 37 catches, for 461 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Despite having some playmakers on defense, the Tulsa stop unit as a whole has had its issues. The Golden Hurricane are allowing 33.2 ppg on the year, on 419.1 yards of offense. Stopping the run has been a particular sore spot, as opponents are averaging 183.2 ypg on 4.3 ypc.
Safety Michael Mudoh has been extremely active with a team-high 120 tackles on the season (seventh nationally). Linebacker Shawn Jackson is in line for All- CUSA honors. The 6-0 senior has also eclipsed the century mark (113) and has made a number of big plays, with 17.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries to his credit.
A division title is attainable, but out of the Mean Green's hands. All they can control is the game in front of them. Tulsa finally put one in the win column last week, but expect North Texas to once again ride its defense to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 31, Tulsa 20
11/27 11:30:30 ET
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