For the first two quarters of their week one matchup with Cal, the North Texas Mean Green looked like they belonged in the game with their Power-5 opponent. The second half would be a different story and resulted in the Mean Green entering this week two matchup with FIU with an 0-1 record. With a lesser offense lined up against them, North Texas will now be looking to get back to .500 by Saturday night.
While North Texas was playing their opening game against a PAC-12 opponent, the FIU Panthers were playing their second game of the season against the Maine Black Bears of the FCS. While the Panthers were able to come away with their first win of the year, their offense continued their struggle to put points on the board consistently. Scoring 14 points against a lesser FCS opponent is never ideal, but what was even less ideal was the Panthers finished the game with just 13 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
This lack of a run game was not an issue in week zero for the Panthers; instead, the passing attack was non-existent in that game, as they finished with just four passing yards against LA Tech. While the lack of consistency with either game will get you by against Maine, it won’t get the Panthers by in many more games this season.
Outside of getting a win and holding Maine to 12 points, the biggest positive for FIU was the play of quarterback Keyone Jenkins, who threw for 292 yards and touchdowns, which earned him a start this weekend. Jenkins’ second start will come against a North Texas defense that allowed at least ten points each quarter against Cal in their 58-21 loss. North Texas got down to under a touchdown underdogs for the game, but their defense got pushed around, which resulted in Cal rushing for 357 yards.
Offensively, the Mean Green came out firing and scored 21 points in the first half, but ultimately, turnovers and a lack of run game would turn a strong start for quarterback Stone Earle into a disappointing one. Earle would finish with 174 yards and three touchdowns, but he would also throw two interceptions.
North Texas is currently listed as (-12.5) point favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. The flashes of potential that the Mean Green offense flashed in the first half of their opening game gave a sense of optimism that they could quickly move the ball down the field against a weaker defense. FIU’s secondary allowed 333 passing yards in week zero and 213 passing yards last weekend, so Earle and his top target, Ja’Mori Maclin, should be able to connect for the entire game and just the first half.
The talent differential between North Texas and Cal started to show more as the game went on, but the Mean Green won’t be pushed around like they were in week one. On the defensive end, North Texas struggled to stop the running and passing games in week one, but the FIU offense is far more inconsistent and has yet to prove they can run a balanced attack.
Keyone Jenkins was solid in his first start, but he could be under duress a lot in his second start. The FIU offensive line had a poor showing against Maine last week, allowing three sacks and losing in the trenches consistently on the run game. Overall, I think the explosive potential of the North Texas offense will shine through, while the apparent problems that FIU has on that side of the ball will continue.
North Texas (-12.5)