How Can North Texas Beat Florida?

North Texas plays a known team tonight. All indications are that our favorite team will get destroyed based on the venue, talent disparity, and recent performances of both squads.

Florida is ranked after beating UMASS and Kentucky by a combined score of 69-14. North Texas was scorched by SMU and relied on a one-dimensional offense to beat up FCS Bethune Cookman.

Florida is going to rely on their talented defense and solid offense to try to nip at the Alabama in the SEC. Our guys will try to figure out if the freshman QB can move the offense well enough to muster up the three wins that are our ceiling.1

A couple of seasons ago I wrote this as we approached a date at DKR in Austin. I wrote that Special Teams, Turnovers, and Lethargy are the three main ingredients for an upset.

So how to we upset the #23 Florida Alligators? Still the above but with one more thing:

Execution

Troy nearly beat #2 Clemson last week. Last night in a (much) smaller upset situation, UTSA gave Arizona State a scare. Texas (sorta) upset the Fightin’ Irish in Week 1. In all these games the offense executed. Advanced Stats will tell you that you need big plays to pull an upset. That is only because Explosive Plays are shortcuts to the end zone. Forgive me for pointing out the very obvious. Again, this is a simple game.

Execution is about running the offense and not making mistakes. Talent disparities, and games in front of 3-4x the regular crowds often mean ‘smaller’ teams make mistakes. It would help, but NT does not need 40 points from the offense. Mistake-free offensive football with some 1st downs and a handful of reasonable scores2 would be sufficient.

One reason Coach Littrell likes Fine over the senior Morris is his ability to manage the offense and not turn the ball over. Fine has no turnovers where Morris has four interceptions.

Special Teams

Big plays are easier on Special Teams. Often, this is where the talent disparity shows. All those 4-star dudes on Florida that are not in the starting lineup play a little special teams. NT used to have a guy like Breland Chancellor to equalize things with a KR or PR.

Despite having a kick blocked last week, the NT special teams is a quality squad. Coach Tommy Perry has his guys ready and they consistently make plays in this area.

A Tyler Wilson 50-yard KR would be great for taking pressure off Mason Fine.

Luck: Turnovers

Last night Arizona State did not realize they were playing a football game for about 3 quarters. They muffed two punts and fumbled a ball away. We will happily take those and any other turnovers Florida wants to give. The ball is still a funny shape and bounces strangely. Sometimes you can just be lucky.

Everyone knows the Turnover Battle is important. It is the chute and or ladder to limiting exposure to talent disparity. Instead of the defense having to win 3/4 plays against a Florida offense they can win possession with one lucky break.

Again. A simple game.

In case the football gods are listening: I will take a dropped ball at the goal line (DeSean Jackson style), a butt fumble, a backward pass, a poor snap or ten, a helmet fumble, a bad handoff, and any other way of transferring the ball from Florida to North Texas.

Lethargy

Jim McElwain has spent all week trying to make sure his guys are not taking the Mean Green lightly while Seth Littrell has spent this week preparing this team to be mentally tough.

We want North Texas to be locked in to Execute and want Florida to be Lethargic. That’s how we could win the Turnover battle and pull out this game. It is much easier said than it is done.

Are any of these things likely? No, not really. If they all happen can NT still lose big? Yes. Again, last night Arizona State basically spotted UTSA 3 quarters and a 13-point lead. Last week Troy had Clemson tied up in the 4th. On Thursday, Cincinnati had Houston on the ropes and handing over stupid momentum-swinging turnovers. All three upset bids failed. Sometimes the good teams are too good.


  1. Most numbers-based prognosticators say we would be lucky to win 3. 
  2. Like, at least a FG from the red zone. A TD from a short field. You know, reasonable