There will be plenty on the line on and off the field for North Texas and SMU.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex rivals meet on Saturday afternoon in Denton, Texas.
Both teams started the season with wins, and going 2-0 in this truncated season — with fewer teams playing football because of COVID-19 — would grant bragging rights for recruiting battles in the talent-rich region and set the table for success once their respective conference campaigns begin over the next few weeks.
The Mustangs lead all-time series between the two teams 32-6-1, including a 49-27 win last season in Dallas, and have won four of the last five meetings.
North Texas opened its year on Sept. 5 with a 57-31 home win over Houston Baptist in which it rolled up a school-record 721 yards of total offense.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Bean completed 11 of 18 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns for North Texas while also adding a 37-yard touchdown run. Oscar Adaway III rushed for 118 yards on five carries with two touchdowns, and Deandre Torrey added 85 yards on 11 carries.
The Mean Green showed off their depth against Houston Baptist when 11 players caught passes.
“The way we play, you are going to have to play multiple guys,” North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. “That is to your advantage if you have a deep enough roster at the skill positions. Everybody’s hungry. They all talk about they want to eat, well, everyone’s hungry, so let’s feed everyone.”
North Texas ran 86 plays in the win over Houston Baptist and seemed in high gear throughout the game.
“Everyone is conditioned to keep going at this pace,” Mean Green offensive lineman Cole Brown said. “We do have a lot of good backs and receivers. That is why we switch people in and out. They all go full speed.”
North Texas will really learn about itself over the next few weeks with games versus SMU and then at Houston before the start of Conference USA play.
SMU outlasted Texas State 31-24 in its season opener on Sept. 5 in what was a ragged performance for the Mustangs, who went 10-3 last season.
Shane Buechele threw for 367 yards and a touchdown but also uncorked two interceptions, and TJ McDaniel ran for 130 yards but also fumbled in the end zone to wipe out a touchdown. Another TD, a 56-yard run by Kylen Granson, was called back because of a penalty.
“It wasn’t always pretty — you could tell it was the first game of the season,” SMU head coach Sonny Dykes said. “I’m proud of our guys and how they have dealt with adversity. We should have been able to put the game away much earlier than we did, but when you make those kind of mistakes, you’re going to be in for a dogfight.”
Buechele’s performance against Texas State was his eighth career 300-yard game, and his sixth in his 14 contests with SMU since transferring from Texas.
SMU kicker Chris Naggar earned American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against Texas State, Naggar went 4-for-4 on PATs, connected on a 32-yard field goal and added five touchbacks on six kickoffs in his first game as a Mustang.
The Mustangs were supposed to play TCU on Sept. 11 but that game was postponed because of positive coronavirus tests in the Horned Frogs’ camp.