According to Phil Steele, UNT’s 2008 schedule is ranked 92nd toughest out of 120 teams. If you just take wins and losses of the teams on the 2008 schedule from the year before, UNT is ranked 82nd compared to 96th in 2007. With their 92 ranking in Steele’s magazine, UNT’s schedule is considered tougher than Texas teams Rice, a UNT opponent, and Houston as well as nearby Tulsa, also a UNT opponent. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the UNT schedule.
@ Kansas State, August 30, TBA
The Wildcats are known to Texas fans for knocking off the Longhorns the last two years. In his first year as coach, Ron Prince took the ‘Cats to the Texas Bowl, but last year K State fell apart after a promising start. The Wildcats return 7 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters and will be relying on some newcomers to get back to a bowl game.
Tulsa, September 6, 6 PM
This will be the home opener for the Mean Green, and it should be rough. Tulsa had basically the best offense in the country last year with about 543 yards of total offense per game. This is an interesting match up as UNT Coach Dodge was leading Southlake Carroll High School to the 2005 Texas 5A DII State Championship at the same time that Tulsa Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn was leading Springdale High School to the Arkansas 5A State Championship. Both coaches employ a hurry-up, no huddle, spread offense.
@ LSU, September 13, 7 PM
Mark this down as a nice pay day.
@ Rice, September 27, TBA
Only once did Rice hold a team to less than 29 points, and that was FCS Nicholls State. Rice will be looking to get better on defense, but the offense returns 9 starters.
Florida International, October 4, 6 PM
Simply speaking, FIU was the worst team in the nation last year winning just one game, but they beat UNT in the last game of the season. I guess the Golden Panthers were due for a win. They return 9 starters on both sides of the ball. FIU was fairly competitive with most of its Sun Belt Conference foes, just don’t get them mad.
Louisiana-Lafayette, October 11, 6 PM
The Ragin’ Cajuns return 8 starters including the QB on an offense that rushed for 252 yards per game. In fact, ULL rushed for 300 yards against UNT last year. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished last year 3-9, and, of course, look to build on that toward a winning record.
@Louisiana-Monroe, October 18, 6 PM
The Warhawks return 7 starters on offense and 8 on defense. The defense struggled last year, but the offense rushed for 209 yards per game. ULM finished the season winning 5 of their last 6 after losing to North Texas including a stunning 21-14 upset at Alabama in front of 92,138 fans. UNT is 3-2 against ULM in the last 5 years.
Troy, October 25, 6 PM
The Trojans, the Alabama version, returns 7 starters on both offense and defense. Troy has a new Offensive Coordinator after OC Tony Franklin left to take the same position at Auburn. Troy has been one of the most consistent teams in the Sun Belt the past couple of years winning 8 games in each year including a trip to the New Orleans Bowl as the representative of the Sun Belt Conference. Trivia: Ohio State plays back to back Trojans, first USC and then Troy (September 2008).
@Western Kentucky, November 1, TBA
UNT won a thriller last year in Denton, but the Hilltoppers who are still in transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Bowl Championship Subdivision, will return 7 starters on offense and 6 on defense. WKU averaged 247 yards on the ground but a meager 162 through the air. So, who wants to travel to Bowling Green?
@ Florida Atlantic, November 8, 3 PM
The Owls were the surprise champions of the Sun Belt Conference a year ago when they knocked off Troy at the end of the year to earn the trip to the New Orleans Bowl. This season FAU returns 10 starters on offense and 8 on defense. QB Rusty Smith may be the best QB in the state of Florida not named Tim Tebow. Smith passed for 463 yards in their upset at Minnesota. For the year, Smith threw for 3688 yards with 32 TD’s and only 9 INT’s. In 2008, FAU begins the season in Austin against the Longhorns.
@ Middle Tennessee State, November 22, TBA
The Blue Raiders have flirted with the Sun Belt Conference Championship in each of the last 2 years with their best chance in 2006 when they were upset in the last game against Troy to lose the title. MTSU returns their top QB’s Dwight Dasher and Joe Cradock. The Blue Raiders return 6 starters on offense and defense. Despite injuries at the QB position all year in 2007, the Blue Raiders averaged 336 yards per game including 202 yards passing per game.
Arkansas State, November 29, 1 PM
2008 marks the first year as ASU will be called the Red Wolves changing it from Indians per the NCAA. The Red Wolves returns the dynamic duo of Corey Leonard and Reggie Arnold. QB Leonard accounted for 3057 total yards of offense for ASU in 2008 for an average of 254 total yards per game. Arnold was a 1000 yard rusher for the second year in a row, and when he and Leonard are healthy the Red Wolves are dangerous and never out of a game. However, the Red Wolves lose a lot from a defense that included Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Tyrell Johnson who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round with the 43rd pick.