Sometime this week someone accused me of simply being “a guy with a blog”. They weren’t talking about this particular blog1 but they are right. We are all, reductively speaking, just a [person] with [whatever we hold dear] and it is easy to get knocked off whatever path you are trying to walk upon hearing a dismissive comment.
There are thousands of reasons to not try something, or to give up, or to stop or to try something else. A lot of them are good, and no one would blame anyone for quitting and moving on to the next thing. That choice is often the best choice. For those that see the vision that no one else can, or persevere while it is un-fun, un-exciting, and much harder the sweet taste of vindication can make it all worth it.
Of course, I am not talking about this (or any) little blog that I do here, but the Mean Green of North Texas. That squad that was much-disrespected (for good reason) at 1-6, is now 5-6 and on the precipice of earning bowl eligibility. It matters not what kind of bowl game that could be on the horizon because no bowl would pit the Mean Green against a ranked opponent with the chance to ruin their season.
Before we get to that point, let us bask in the blowout that was put on the FIU Panthers this week.
A programming note:
Mean Green Nation is relocating MGN HQ from San Antonio, TX to Missouri. We will continue to do what we do but in the moment the work to do the relocating is consuming a large portion of time and effort and this is why you have not gotten good podcastery and crisp prose.
The Game, Or What We Could See Of It
Having come up as a student during the Sun Belt years, I remember TY Hilton running NT ragged. I have a healthy sports-hate for FIU because of it, and it didn’t help that James Morgan beat out Mason Fine for an award. Seeing Butch Davis trash the program, the administration, and wear non-FIU gear was satisfying in a watch-it-all-burn sort of way. I do not condone feeling this way but we are among friends and this is how it feels.
The broadcast was terrible, something that ESPN+ will continue to produce. Disney shareholders are getting really fat pockets and not putting anything in the broadcast quality. So it goes. From what I could see on my practically-mute television, on a field that looked like it was black-and-white, was North Texas running backs galloping for touchdowns as often as they wanted. We saw Torrey and Ragsdale combine for 37 carries and 211 yards and the team put up 378. FIU is the worst rushing defense in the league by pretty much any metric and it would have been a fireable offense to do anything but run. NT has the best run game (4.79 yards per tote) and the second-best vs the conference (4.9 vs UTSA’s 5.0)
North Texas amassed 611 yards (8.6 per play) , including 378 on the ground (6.6 per carry). Austin Aune did not have to do much (the best scenario for him) and the defense handled a hapless FIU squad. FIU was out-gained 288 to 35 in the second quarter and that was pretty much, that. NT put up 28 points on two Torrey runs (50, and 1) and a wide-open Burns catch for 55, to go with a 35-yarder from Lyles.
It could have been more, if NT wanted to just keep going. *I* would not have minded.
The Moment That Is Coming
UTSA is undefeated and just beat UAB, the defending champs, at home in really incredible instant-classic. They got punched in the mouth by a good game plan from the Blazers where they hit Shropshire over the top for a couple of long TDs and then ran through the UTSA defense with ease. The problem was in the second half when the UTSA defense stepped up. UAB had a late lead, but UTSA got a stop because Bill Clark was scared to run for one inch. UTSA got a miracle 70+ yard TD drive and that SportsCenter-worthy finish.
North Texas is not as good as we want them to be. They are not as good as UTSA in a lot of aspects. UTSA, however, *leans in closer* is not that good. They have beaten ONE (1) good team this year and the was last week and it took a home crowd of 35K and some helpful refereeing on the edges to get hem there. It can be done, and it would not be as big of a shock as you might think.
Some things to consider: UTSA has big, physical, talented WRs and NT has struggled to defend the pass. UTSA has a quality run game, and NT has been pretty decent stopping that. UTSA has a QB that can make plays — but also makes some questionable decisions and throws some bad passes. NT has been iffy defending that and needs to take full advantage there. UTSA is good against the run, but will give up some long passes if they are on the money. NT has been good (best, or near the best) running, but pretty awful passing.
None of that matters, however. Playing the absolute best football that this team is capable of is the requirement. Showing up in the largest numbers we can possible hope for is what we, the fans, can do. I am under no illusions, and know there will not be a super large contingent like there was back in the day. That is the nature of football in the modern era. If you can make it, do make it. NT is not as good as we hoped but we could not ask for a bigger game than this one, all things considered.
“I’ll have you know I am a guy with many blogs, sir! ↩