The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 7, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Peden Stadium (24,000) -- Athens, Ohio. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: NT 1-0, Ohio 0-0. Away Record: NT 0-0, Ohio 0-1. Neutral Record: NT 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: NT 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Series Record: Ohio leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green pursues their first 2-0 start since 1994 as they visit Peden Stadium for a non-conference bout with the Ohio University Bobcats.
North Texas coasted to a 40-6 victory over Idaho in Denton in its season opener. The Mean Green are 1-0 to start the season for just the third time since 1997. Last year, UNT won a total of four games, but failed to put together back-to-back victories during a campaign in which it was 3-5 versus the rest of the Sun Belt Conference for head coach Dan McCarney, a former assistant head coach with Florida.
Ohio was dealt a 49-7 setback by Louisville as Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals amassed 615 total yards of offense to the Bobcats' 273. Ohio has still won nine of its past 11 non-conference games, including postseason play. Coach Frank Solich's squad won its first seven games in 2012, but injuries took their toll, as the team won just two of its next six outings.
Ohio went 5-1 at home last season and outscored its opposition, 226-133, while averaging 37.7 points per game.
The Mean Green and Bobcats are squaring off for just the second time in history. The inaugural meeting was in 2009 when Ohio held on for a double- overtime victory that prevented UNT from starting 2-0.
When Derek Thompson took over the starting quarterback duties at NT as a sophomore in 2010, the offense revolved around star tailback Lance Dunbar. Now a senior, Thompson has become the Mean Green's leader. He threw for a career- high 349 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-27 passing with zero interceptions against Idaho to begin the year.
His favorite target was Breland Chancellor, who tallied 135 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. The team rushed for 187 yards, led by Brandin Byrd with 57 yards and two scores.
Chancellor also made a huge contribution on special teams as he broke the school record for single game punt return average (37.0) and came up just three yards shy of the program record of 114 punt return yards. NT also broke a team record as 12 different players had at least one reception for the first time in history.
Defensively, the Mean Green look to be an improved team from a season ago. They held Idaho to just six points and 369 yards. Zach Orr, who is the son of former Washington Redskin great Terry Orr, was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week after he registered 11 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Lairamie Lee made a couple of memorable plays with two fumble recoveries and also caused one himself.
Orr and company will try to keep Beau Blankenship contained for the second- straight week. After running for a single-season school record 1,604 yards last year, Blankenship gained only 22 yards on 12 attempts and fumbled once against Louisville. Ryan Boykin was a little more successful, gaining 39 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton went 11-of-23 for 140 yards in the lopsided loss. He has proven himself as one of the elite field generals in the MAC over the past few seasons. Tettleton has thrown a touchdown pass in every home game he has played since taking over the starting role in 2011. He owns nine program career records, including the school standard for passing yards (6,414), completions (515) and touchdowns (46).
Ohio's leading receiver from a year ago, Donte Foster, is back after setting career-highs with 59 catches, 658 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the squad with 56 yards on two receptions against the Cardinals.
The Bobcats' secondary was shredded in their first outing as Bridgewater went 23-of-28 for 355 yards and five touchdowns. The Cardinals also compiled 199 yards on the ground with an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Ohio had an above average defense last season, but only two starters returned from that group.
Jon Kristoff, Brandon Atwell and Ben Russell recorded eight stops each to tie for the team lead. Xavier Hughes made one of the few big plays when he intercepted Bridgewater in the second quarter.
Ohio should be able to bounce back with the homefield advantage working in its favor. The Bobcats were embarrassed last week which means they will come out with a chip on their shoulder. However, another stellar outing by Thompson could keep North Texas in contention.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio 35, North Texas 31
09/04 10:38:27 ET