It could be a bit of a trap game for Tennessee on Saturday as the Vols go out of SEC play to face an overmatched North Texas squad. UT is a 41.5-point home favorite on 5Dimes' college football odds -- biggest spread by far of any game -- with a total of 64.
Season Can't End Soon Enough For North Texas
North Texas (1-8, 1-5) is a Conference USA team and it's in the conversation as the worst FBS program in the nation. The Mean Green already have fired their head coach this season, dumping Dan McCarney after a 66-7 loss to FCS school Portland State on North Texas' homecoming on Oct. 10. McCarney was fired about an hour after the game. He was 22-32 there. The coach since has been offensive coordinator Mike Canales. He also served as UNT's interim head coach in 2010 after the school fired Todd Dodge.
Canales got his first win on Halloween as the Mean Green upset UTSA 30-23. But things were back to normal last week in a 56-13 loss at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs took a 21-0 first-quarter lead, which is nothing new for UNT. It has been outscored 101-6 in the opening period this season and outscored by double digits in five of nine games. North Texas hasn't scored a first-quarter TD yet. The Bulldogs had 200 yards in the first quarter while allowing the Mean Green 46 and the total offense margin was 509-199 at the end of the third quarter. Tech's Kenneth Dixon rushed for six touchdowns, the most by any FBS player this year. Louisiana Tech was 4-for-7 on third down and North Texas is allowing opponents to convert on 55 percent of their third downs, the worst mark in the country. UNT is 123rd nationally in total defense and 126th in points allowed (45.6 ppg).
North Texas, which dropped its11th straight road game, scored in the final quarter on a pair of touchdown passes by DaMarcus Smith. He finished 25-for-45 for 234 yards with a pick. Carlos Harris had five receptions and passed Johnny Quinn with 189 career catches to move into second all-time at North Texas.
The Mean Green have dropped 13 straight non-conference road games and since 2001 are 1-38 on the road in non-conference games. The only non-conference road win came in 2009 at Ball State. North Texas is 1-8 against the spread on college football odds and 5-4 'over/under.'
Vols On Homecoming
Tennessee (5-4, 3-3) will get bowl eligible with a win here and has won two straight since a close loss at Alabama. On Saturday, the Vols edged visiting South Carolina 27-24. Aaron Medley gave Tennessee the lead with 9:14 left in the game when he made a 27-yard field goal -- it marked the third straight season that UT beat USC on a fourth-quarter field goal. Malik Foreman forced a fumble and Jalen Reeves-Maybin recovered it at the UT 13-yard line in the final minute to secure the win.
Vols QB Josh Dobbs finished 20-for-34 for 255 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and added 35 rushing yards on 13 carries. He is 120 yards from Jimmy Streater’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback of 593 in 1978. Von Pearson set career highs with eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. That yardage total was the most for a Tennessee player in three years.
UT played without Preston Williams, guard Jashon Robertson, tackle Brett Kendrick, safety Stephen Griffin and receiver Marquez North against South Carolina but all should return this week. It's possible very good defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt plays. Maggitt has been out since chipping a hip bone against Oklahoma in the second game of the season. Don't be surprised if freshman quarterback Quinten Dormady gets some snaps as the Vols are likely to get a big lead and get Dobbs out.
This is Tennessee's homecoming game and the Vols have won 28 of their past 31 of those games. The Vols' last game vs. a team from Texas was in the 2005 Cotton Bowl, a 38-7 win over Texas A&M. Tennessee is 5-4 ATS on college football picks and 5-4 O/U.
Might shock you to know that North Texas leads the all-time series. OK, it's just 1-0 and that game was played back in 1975. The Mean Green last played an SEC team in 2013 and lost 45-21 at No. 9 Georgia.
College Football Picks: North Texas is terrible, but 41 points? I'll take them at 5Dimes as UT will go through the motions for a while and only win by 35 or so. Go 'over' the total. The Mean Green are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. the SEC. The Vols are 2-7 ATS in their past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The 'over' is 5-1 in North Texas' past six non-conference games. The 'over' is 5-2 in UT's past seven following an ATS loss.