In a matchup of two former Sun Belt Conference teams that are now both members of Conference USA on Saturday, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (3-3, 1-2 away) pay a visit to the North Texas Mean Green (2-3, 2-0 home) at Apogee Stadium in Denton, TX at 7:00 ET.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has North Texas as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -7 with odds of -102.
North Texas may be just 2-3 overall after losing on the road the last two weeks, but keep in mind that the Mean Green were actually tied 21-21 with the Georgia Bulldogs of the SEC in the third quarter of a covering loss two games ago, and they then rallied at Tulane last week before falling just short 24-21 vs. the Green Wave.
Conversely, Middle Tennessee State has a winning 3-2 record but has lost two straight games and has in fact been out-gained in every single game vs. FBS opponents this season. A huge part of that problem has been the erratic play of quarterback Logan Kilgore, who has thrown more interceptions (8) than touchdown passes (6).
Another reason why North Texas is glad to be back home after those two competitive road losses is because the Mean Green have gone 9-4 straight up at Apogee Stadium since Dan McCarney, the former head man at Iowa State, took over as head coach and they are on a 4-0 ATS run vs. FBS competition here at Denton. That includes a 2-0 mark this season as UNT destroyed Idaho 40-6 and upset Ball State 34-27 here.
Unlike Middle Tennessee, North Texas has a dependable quarterback in Derek Thompson, has completed a nice 68.0 percent of his passes and is averaging 7.4 yards per attempt while throwing for 1346 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He led the Mean Green back from a 21-7 deficit at Tulane last week by completing 29-of-42 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, with wide receiver Darnell Smith being on the receiving end for 130 of those yards.
Smith also caught Thompson’s second touchdown pass to knot the score at 21-21 with less than four minutes left in regulation time before the Mean Green lost on a field goal by the Green Wave on the game’s final play.
Middle Tennessee comes off of a covering 24-17 loss to the East Carolina Pirates, barely getting that cover as 7½-point underdogs at home. The Blue Raiders have not been particularly strong on the road this year though despite one overtime win vs. a very mediocre Florida Atlantic team, as they lost their other two road affairs by a combined score of 77-30.
Middle Tennessee has struggled defending the pass this season as it is ranked 106th in the country allowing 277.8 passing yards per game, and that is where North Texas’s Thompson can do a lot of damage while throwing to his fine receiving tandem of Smith and Brelan Chancellor.
That should lead to more than enough points for North Texas to win this game by more than a touchdown.
College Football Pick: North Texas -7 (-102)