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Even at 1-4, Green is Mean

Losses came to big teams like Texas, Colorado

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LOGAN — Don't let recent preseason records fool you — 0-4; 1-4; 1-4; 0-4; 1-4; 1-3 and 0-4.

In the six-plus years of coach Darrell Dickey, the University of North Texas is 4-23 before opening league play, and some teams may think UNT isn't a good football team.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Entering Saturday's 6 p.m. Sun Belt Conference game at Utah State, North Texas, the three-time defending Sun Belt Conference champion, has won 19 straight league games, and Dickey has won SBC coaching honors all three years.

In fact, in the three years the Mean Green has been in the conference it has lost just one league game, and it was its first league game against La.-Monroe on Oct. 6, 2001.

"What we'll see this week is a lot of what we see year in and year out from North Texas," Utah State coach Mick Dennehy said. "They have another outstanding football team that has played a tough schedule, just like the rest of us. Once they get into league, until somebody takes it away from them, they should be considered the favorite."

In the combined games before league play, the Mean Green has played16 teams from the Big 12, three from the Southeastern Conference and Mountain West Conference, and two from Conference USA and one from the Pac-10.

North Texas' non-conference wins in the six-year stretch came over Texas Tech, Samford, Nicholls State and Baylor.

This year, the Mean Green lost to Texas, Florida Atlantic (a Sun Belt Conference member in 2005), Colorado and Baylor. In those games UNT was outscored 43.5 points per game to just 12.

UNT picked up its first win and Sun Belt Conference win last week with a 30-21 decision over Middle Tennessee.

"This is a good football team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes and doesn't beat itself," Dennehy said. "If we are going to beat them, we have to be that kind of team as well."

UNT will be without Patrick Cobbs, who led the nation is rushing last year at 152.7 yards per game, because of a knee injury. He will seek a medical hardship year. Replacing him, UNT has the second-best freshman in the nation in Jemario Thomas, who ranks 10th in the nation and second among freshmen with 120.75 yards per game.

In his first career start against Colorado this year, Thomas rushed for a school freshman-record 247 yards (which also tied for the school high) and two touchdowns.

"They are built along the same lines as Troy in how they envision what their style of play is in order to win," Dennehy said. "Offensively, they want to run the ball."

At the same time, the Aggies have to play attention to quarterback Scott Hall, who has completed 51 percent of his passes.

"Hall is a guy that if you give him time to throw, he'll pick you apart," Dennehy said.

He has completed 57 of 111 passes for 844 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Wide receiver Johnny Quinn leads the Mean Green with 17 catches for 367 yards and he has hauled in all three of UNT's receiving touchdowns.

STILL HURTING: UNT back-up quarterback Andrew Smith was killed in a car accident in July.

As a freshman, Smith replaced injured started Scott Hall in the season opener and started the remaining 12 games. In leading North Texas to the Sun Belt Conference championship, he threw for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns.

Last year he completed 13-of-35 passes for 187 yards. He had a touchdown pass and four interceptions.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES: Utah State leads the series with North Texas 4-2 and has won three of the last four. UNT beat the Aggies 37-27 last year in Denton, Texas. The Aggies have won both meetings in Logan. The first five meetings between the two schools were league games in the Big West Conference.

FIELD POSITION: In the 10-point win over Utah State last year, UNT scored five touchdowns and two came on drives of nine yards or less (9, 1 yards). The other three came on drives of 47 yards or less (47, 46, 35).


USU vs. North Texas

North Texas (1-4, 1-0) at Utah State (2-3, 1-1)

Saturday, 6 p.m., Romney Stadium

TV: None

Radio: 610 AM (Logan) 98.3 FM (SLC)