We're just over halfway through the season, and it's probably a good time to take a look at how the Mean Green have fared through seven games.
The Road so far
If you're waiting for a consistent pattern in North Texas' 2017 season, keep waiting. The 4-3 Mean Green beat FCS opponent Lamar before losing the Hippogriff trophy showdown with SMU. The Mustangs outmatched the Mean Green, but a week later they took Big 10 foe Iowa into the fourth quarter on the road.
Then the Mean Green ran off three straight conference wins including last-second wins over UAB and UTSA and an impressive road victory at Southern Miss. A 3-0 conference record will make you a little too big for your britches, and Florida Atlantic delivered a humbling beatdown last weekend.
Still, North Texas sits atop CUSA West with a chance for a return trip to Boca and revenge against the Owls.
The Road Ahead
Three of North Texas' five remaining games are at Apogee. This weekend the Mean Green welcome Old Dominion then UTEP and Army come to Denton. Intermixed are two road trips to Louisiana Tech and Rice. The Mean Green are in a position to win out; the Bulldogs provide their stiffest completion. Nine wins aren't out of the question.
North Texas has its version of the venerable triplets from 90's Cowboy fame in Mason Fine, Jeffery Wilson, and Jalen Guyton. Fine leads CUSA in passing while Wilson and Guyton are second in rushing and receiving respectively. They form the foundation of North Texas' formidable, conference-leading offense. Thanks to their help and development the Mean Green are putting up over 140 more yards per game and improved on last year's last-place total offense finish in CUSA.
North Texas' points per game have improved by twelve points overall in 2017. Guyton may well be the missing link. For the first time, the Mean Green have a viable big play threat. We'll see how Guyton adapts to the added attention defenses will pay to him based on his success.
First Half MVP
In 2016 Mason Fine put up pedestrian numbers after his insertion into the starting lineup. This season Fine is on his way to becoming an elite level quarterback. He's more than doubled his touchdown mark from last season and surpassed his yardage mark as well.
Fine's efficiency marks continue to rise as well as his big play ability. In all of 2016, the Mean Green mustered just 32 pass plays of 20 yards or more. This season, through seven games, North Texas is already at 3o.
In the Mean Green's four wins their defense gives up 27 points per game. In their three losses that number rises to 51.