Army visits North Texas looking for payback from last year
It’s been a little over a year since North Texas embarrassed Army at Michie Stadium, and the Black Knights would like nothing more than to return the favor.
“We’d like to go to their place and beat them bad, too,” Army defensive lineman John Voit said.
Army (8-2) gets the chance to avenge that 35-18 loss when it visits North Texas (7-3) on Saturday, and the scenario couldn’t be better for the Black Knights. Army beat Duke last week to finish the season unbeaten at home (6-0) for the first time in 21 years. North Texas, fresh from clinching the Conference USA West Division title, needs a victory to finish its home slate unblemished.
“It’s great that we were able to clinch the West, but moving forward we still understand that we have a lot to accomplish this season,” said North Texas coach Seth Littrell, in his second season. “There’s another goal out there that we’ve set since the first day of fall camp, and that’s to be undefeated at home, make the fan base proud. We still have one game left to accomplish that mission.”
This will mark the third time the teams have met in a 13-month span — Army defeated North Texas 38-31 in overtime in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last December — so that familiarity is likely to add to the intensity on the field.
“It’s a team that ... we’re 1-1 against,” Littrell said. “This is a really big opportunity for us to play against a team ... that, to be quite honest, eliminated us from accomplishing our ultimate mission this past year, which was to win our bowl game.”
Other things to know when Army visits North Texas:
ON A ROLL
Army is on a six-game winning streak, its longest since 1996. Dating back to last season, Army is 11-2 over its past 13 games. Since the beginning of 2016, the Black Knights have won 16 of 23, but the loss to North Texas last October started a skid that sent the Black Knights to three losses in a four-game span.
REAL MEAN GREEN
North Texas has won three games in a row and six of seven. The Mean Green are unbeaten in five games at home and have averaged 44 points per game at Apogee Stadium.
“They’re definitely a really good team,” Voit said. “We kind of know a lot about them. We’re hoping we get a real good game plan going and we execute.”
North Texas RB Jeffery Wilson, the hero last year at Michie Stadium (160 yards rushing and three touchdowns), has rushed for 1,143 yards and 14 scores this season, while QB Mason Fine has 2,812 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.
“This is a big game for us,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “This is a team that beat the pants off of us at home last year. I remember it well. It was a pretty good lashing they gave us. They have so many good athletes, weapons on offense, and guys who can run on defense.”
Army has won its last two games — 21-0 over Air Force and 21-16 last week over Duke — and completed the only pass it attempted, for 42 yards on a key third-and-9 play against the Blue Devils. Led by QB Ahmad Bradshaw , the Black Knights rank second nationally in rushing (351.5 yards per game). Last year, the Mean Green had a bye week to prepare, but at least they’re familiar with what lies ahead.
“I think they’re very solid,” Littrell said. “The things they’re doing offensively, the things they do cause a lot of issues for people, especially just playing it one time in a year. There’s a lot of things that go into it. You have to have a really good week of preparation.”
Bradshaw needs just 112 yards to break Collin Mooney’s academy rushing record for a season of 1,339, set nine years ago. Bradshaw is averaging an impressive 7.58 yards per carry, fifth nationally. Last week, he guided Army on an 18-play drive that lasted over 12 minutes in the fourth quarter and helped doom the Blue Devils.
“We’ve got to be able to sustain a drive and keep the sticks moving,” Monken said. “There are several things that when we have possession of the ball that we’ve got to do better.”
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