The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles take a short flight to Texas for a meeting with the North Texas Mean Green. This does not look like much of a matchup at first glance, but Southern Mississippi and North Texas may develop into a really entertaining game.
North Texas has been hit hard by the coronavirus and had an unexpected bye last week. They were supposed to play the Houston Cougars, but that game was canceled as a result of several positive COVID-19 tests. The region is a hot spot for the virus right now, so not much of a surprise.
Fortunately, the Mean Green didn’t have an outbreak turn into an unmitigated disaster this week. If that were the case, Southern Mississippi wouldn’t have flown to Denton for this matchup. This is the first conference game for North Texas in 2020, while Southern Mississippi lost a close one against Louisiana Tech in the opener.
It’s a big game with implications that should impact the standings in Conference USA later on in the year. Both believe they are good enough to win this conference, and I can’t say they’re wrong, especially in the west division. Marshall has looked good in the east division, but there isn’t a whole lot to compete with in the west.
Southern Mississippi played Louisiana Tech, one of the better teams in the division, tough in a 31-30 loss two weeks ago. While Southern Mississippi is 0-3 overall, there isn’t much to like at all in the C-USA west. What will ultimately hurt them is their shaky defense. An average Tulane offense was able to hit home run after home run last week.
The Golden Eagles looked absolutely gassed in the second-half against Tulane, as they couldn’t keep up in a 66-24 loss. Injuries to their linebacker core was a major problem, and their defensive line was getting zero push. Without linebackers to fill those holes, Tulane was ripping off big runs up the middle.
Southern Mississippi draws a team this week who are fully capable of pounding the ball on the ground as well, so that could be an issue. Not that North Texas can say much about their defense. Shane Buechele torched the Mean Green for 65 two weeks ago. The onus is going to be on Southern Mississippi QB Jack Abraham to get the Golden Eagles a win on the road. Head below for our free Southern Mississippi vs. North Texas pick for October 3, 2020.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles vs. North Texas Mean Green NCAAF Week 5 Betting Odds:
Southern Mississippi vs. North Texas Prediction:
Despite his small stature, Jack Abraham can zip the ball around the yard. North Texas must be prepared for Abraham if they’re going to find success in the secondary. Abraham faced two SEC defenses last year, as he gained experience with matchups against Alabama and Mississippi State. He ultimately threw for 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions on 67.9% completions.
That is far from exceptional, but he had a tough slate of defenses to play. Abraham should have a big day against a beatable North Texas secondary. Shane Buechele and SMU did whatever they wanted, with receivers running open frequently.
Buechele passed for 344 yards with 4 touchdowns through the air. The ground game had a field day against North Texas as well, with Ulysses Bentley gashing their defense for 227 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.
Through two games against Houston Baptist and SMU, the Mean Green have surrendered 96 points. To their credit, North Texas have scored 92 points on offense. What makes them kind of tricky to prepare for is that they’re using a quarterback-by-committee system.
Austin Aune and Jason Bean will both see the field. Bean has thrown for 4 touchdowns and an interception, while Aune has racked up 3 touchdowns and an interception. Note that both quarterbacks are capable of eluding pressure and running with the football. That’s not good news for a Golden Eagles’ defense that has gotten gashed on the ground.
Tulane ran for 430 yards against Southern Mississippi last week. Conditioning looked like a problem in the second-half, as the defense was sucking wind and offering no resistance. North Texas will attack the ground with talented running backs Oscar Adaway and DeAndrey Torrey.
Adaway, only a freshman, is running like a senior with 222 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8.9 yards per carry. He ran for 104 yards on 20 carries versus a better SMU defense two weeks ago. Combined, Adaway and Torrey have galloped for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns in two games.
Look for both to do damage against a porous defensive front for Southern Mississippi. I’d like to back North Texas, but it’s hard with their leaky defense with Abraham ready to take full advantage. Look for a high-scoring shootout, with a final score of 45-35 or 42-38.