The last conference loss at home came against Marshall in 2021. They were mediocre, but NT was in the midst of a terrible slide. From then on, North Texas is 10-1 in CUSA play. That incredible run has seen some of the best football under Seth Littrell. This game was one of those. The offense put up 623 yards of offense, the third time this season that Seth Littrell’s guys have gone over 600+. Coming into this season, there had only been seven such games in North Texas history. This group has added three.
**Team Game Highs** — 2022 bolded
- 768 vs Middle 2020
- 721 vs Houston Baptist 2020
- 671 vs La Tech 2022
- 668 vs Lamar 2017
- 635 vs Navy 2007
- 623 vs FIU 2022
- 613 vs SMU 20071
- 607 vs Incarnate Word 2018
- 607 vs Texas Southern 2022
- 603 vs FIU 2021
A quick note about the above: of the ten listed, eight have been under Seth Littrell.
This team is playing some of the best football we have seen — statistically — at North Texas on both sides of the ball.
We expected a blowout win — we predicted 50-17 — and so did the oddsmakers — 21 point favorites. The question was if the coaching staff could have the team prepared and ready to compete against a team that was simply not very good or experienced. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’.
North Texas won the first quarter 24-0, dominating the game with 264 yards against just 37 for FIU. Aune threw one of his two interceptions in this quarter, but you wouldn’t have known it looking at the score. Complete domination, and we saw Jordan Smart take a “pass” and scoot for six. It was an example of the clever play-calling we have seen in this stretch that has allowed NT playmakers to get the ball. The defense has been kept off balance.
In the second period, NT won 21-14, but saw FIU get their first points followed quickly by an awful pick-six. NT went 3-of-3 on third down and was racking up 9-yards per play. By half time NT was up 485-124 in yardage and up 45-14 on the scoreboard. The game was over by then.
In the second half, things slowed considerably, and Stone Earle got a little time, while the defense kept up the good fight. NT won the second half 7-0, and pitched a second half shutout for the second-consecutive week.
Overall we got what we wanted: A blowout win on homecoming against a former SBC rival, Austin Aune putting up some numbers while the defense holds the other squad to little or nothing. There are quibbles here and there — another poor couple of interceptions in this one, some overly-aggressive pass-coverage play, and a pass rush that didn’t get to the QB as often as we’d like.
FIU’s game plan was really to get the ball out quickly, and let their young playmakers do something. NT was ready, and tackled extremely well. They allowed the first touchdown when Logan Wilson, who was great overall and got an interception, tried to jump the pass. The ball was caught, the big FIU tight end rambled for big yards to set up the first score. We cautioned against going for the big play — but it is understandable.
The pass rush didn’t have time to get to FIU’s James, because he did a great job of getting rid of the ball. FIU didn’t do much with it, so there are no complaints.
Beyond all of that, the biggest concern was Ayo Adeyi going down with an ankle issue. He didn’t put weight on it, and it looks like NT’s fearsome foursome is now a single guy: Ikaika Ragsdale.
Isaiah Johnson picked up an ankle injury vs UTSA, Oscar Adaway went out with a leg injury vs WKU, and now Adeyi stepped out. We saw some time for Qualon Farrar, and BK Jackson in the second half. I expect we’ll see a lot more Stone Earle, jet sweeps, and some other stuff. Ragsdale does well as a pass-catcher, but Adaway is the best pass-protector, and Adeyi the most explosive. The freshman duo might get a little more time — but they’ll need to earn the trust of the staff. They have talent, but not a whole lot of experience.
North Texas owns second place in the league with a 5-1 record in C-USA. UTSA escaped Birmingham with a win in double-OT (UAB scored in the final seconds to force OT, having come back from down 14 late). That means UTSA will need to drop two of La Tech, UTEP, and Rice. Any one of those is very unlikely, but two is damned-near impossible. UAB represented the best chance of UTSA picking up one loss. The hope was that they’d stumble in one of the other three while NT ran the table.
The likelihood that North Texas hosts the league title game is slim-to-none. NT controls their destiny, however. UAB (on the road) and Rice (home) are the two games left on the schedule. NT has a bye in between, as well. A loss at UAB would put NT at two losses, but would just need to beat Rice to ensure an appearance in the final CUSA title game.
NT pulled even at 5-5 vs FIU all time. NT won its third straight in the series. Last year NT won 49-7 in Miami. Seth Littrell is also above .500 (43-42) in his career. He’s the fourth winningest coach in NT history, passing Darrell Dickey.
NT bumped up the records for leading at half (32-7), after three (39-4), and when scoring 40+ (28-0), and holding the opposition to less than 20 (17-0).
Aune had 414 yards passing, moving into sixth place all-time at NT (6,761). Next up is Scott Davis (87-90) at 6,923. Mason Fine holds the record at 12,505. The 414 was the 11th 400+ game in NT history, Aune’s first, and the eight NT QB to do so. Mason Fine had three such games, and Steve Ramsay two.
Aune also had his ninth 300+ passing day, putting him second behind Fine’s 18. Aune now has 28 scores on the year, which is third in the single-season list (Fine, 31 and 29). He has 51 for his career, which is fourth-all time. He passed Scott Hall (50) and trails Mitch Maher’s 67 for third.
Aune had five first-half TD tosses, which is second-most all time in league history.
After Jyaire Shorter grabbed two catches for 92 yards and two scores, he has 17 TDs on 53 career catches — or 32% TD rate.
Var’Keyes Gumms caught his fifth score on the year, which puts him one-away from the single-season TD record by a TE (Marcus Smith in 2014).
Manase Mose had his 58th straight start.
NT held a team to under 300 yards for the first time since … they played FIU last year.
KD Davis passed Craig Robertson for 2nd all time in tackles (386)
Ethan Mooney is three-points away from the all-time record for career points (Trevor Moore).
This was against Phil Bennett’s SMU↩