Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#185 North Texas 68 vs.
#186 Louisiana Tech -5
Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 4:00pm EST
Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston
Written by Chris Altruda

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#185 University of North Texas
#186 Louisiana Tech University
4-5
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North Texas at Louisiana Tech

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 9, Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, La., 4 p.m. EST.

Looking to remain the only unbeaten team in league play in Conference USA, Louisiana Tech also attempts to push its winning streak to eight games Saturday when it hosts division rival North Texas.

Mean Green try to take step closer to fourth straight bowl appearance

North Texas (4-5, 3-2 C-USA West) needs two wins in its final three games to be bowl eligible and potentially make a fourth straight bowl appearance. The Mean Green picked up a key and needed a win in that quest last Saturday with a 52-26 rout of UTEP.

Mason Fine arguably won the weekend in all of college football with his in-game and post-game performance. Fine threw a career-high seven touchdown passes and finished with 332 yards while completing 24 of 39 passes, then became a viral sensation for doing his post-game press conference in a dinosaur costume.

“I was proud of him,” coach Seth Littrell told the Denton Record-Chronicle about Fine showing a lighter side. “College football is a year-round job and is a grind. If you don’t enjoy it and have some laughs, it can be even more of a grind. It showed his personality. He likes to have fun.”

Fine clearly does not have a short arm as he also surpassed 12,000 passing yards in last weekend's victory. He is seventh in the nation with 2,609 yards and tied for third with 27 TD passes. Fine is four scoring tosses shy of matching his single-season career-high of 31 set last season and nine short of becoming the 26th player in FBS history with 100.

Tre Siggers, who leads North Texas with 713 rushing yards, could be more of a workhorse in this game with DeAndre Torrey doubtful. The Mean Green have been hit hard by injuries this season, losing starting wide receiver Rico Bussey and left tackle D'Andre Plantin earlier in the campaign.

The Mean Green's defense leaves plenty to be desired. They rank 105th in scoring defense at 32.4 points per game and have held only one opponent under 23 points. North Texas is yielding 416.8 yards per game, including 300.7 per contest through the air.

Bulldogs continue to roll up points and wins

Louisiana Tech (7-1, 4-0 West) is assured of an opportunity to extend its bowl winning streak to six games at some point next month or in January, but there is another big prize in the offering for Skip Holtz's team.

The Bulldogs have never recorded a 10-win season in school history from the inception of the program in 1975 and its rebirth in 1988. They have won nine games on six occasions, most recently in 2016, and are looking to pick up where they left off following their bye week.

"I don't know that I've ever had a team this healthy eight weeks into the season," Holtz said at his media availability Monday. "It speaks tremendous volumes for what this team did in the summer and fall camp and the way they worked, prepared and conditioned for this year. This open date we handled very similarly to the first one.

"We wanted to develop some depth and get some necessary rest and recovery for those guys who are playing a major role for us. We wanted to get ahead for what we're doing as a coaching staff as far as game-planning and self-scouting. I thought it was a very productive week as far as that's concerned."

Louisiana Tech is 22nd in the nation in total offense with 471.3 yards per game 23rd in scoring (36.4 ppg). The Bulldogs have been held under 400 yards by only one FBS opponent and rolled up 490 in defeating UTEP 42-21 on Oct. 26.

J'Mar Smith completed 29 of 35 passes for a season-high 338 yards while matching a season best with three touchdowns in his third 300-yard game of 2019. The senior has completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 2,220 yards and 13 TDs and enters this contest needing 234 yards to reach 9,000 and four scoring tosses to reach 50 for his career.

The Bulldogs have averaged 44.3 points and 530 yards in going 4-0 at home this season, but that means little to Holtz, who is expecting a challenge from the Mean Green given the last two meetings have been decided by a combined three points.

"This is a game that traditionally both teams have had a tremendous amount of respect for each other," Holtz said. "This game has come down to a field goal two years in a row – with them winning in our place two years ago and us being fortunate in coming away with a win over there last year. This is a game that creates a lot of energy and excitement, just when you say North Texas and Louisiana Tech because of the history, the rivalry and the competitive nature of these games when these two teams play."

Smith threw for 230 yards and a pair of scores in last year's 29-27 win, with Louisiana Tech's defense preserving the win by stopping North Texas on a 2-point conversion with 1:57 to play.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Well-rested and rarin' to go, there is too much momentum with Louisiana Tech to be slowed down in this game, especially against a soft North Texas defense. While the last two games have been close, the Bulldogs appear to be on a higher level this season, one that the Mean Green cannot match.

Smith has a balanced offense across the board -- Louisiana Tech has five players with at least 20 catches and a solid running back in Justin Henderson, who has 654 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 7.0 yards per carry. Look for the Bulldogs to deliver big in this game and take another step closer to appearing in the C-USA title game and their first 10-win season.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech -5.5 (-110)

Full-Game Total Pick

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It is a very big number, enough to not be aggressive about it, but both offenses are dynamic and efficient. And in the case of North Texas, a porous defense should lead to a scenario where the first to 40 wins. Louisiana Tech averaged 52 points and 551.7 yards in the past three games before the bye and also 39 points per game in its last five matchups with North Texas.

Per Covers.com, the over is trending with both teams -- hitting in the Mean Green's last five contests and going 4-1 in Louisiana Tech's last five. The over is also 21-7 in the last 28 games the Bulldogs have come off a win by 20 or more points.

Prediction: OVER 71.5 points (-110)

Full-Game Prop Bet

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High-side hook be damned, there is full confidence in the Bulldogs clearing 40 points in this contest. There is little trust in North Texas' defense, especially on the road since Louisiana Tech is averaging 52.3 points in its three home games versus FBS opponents.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech OVER 38.5 points (-110)

Half-Time Side Pick

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This is more of an anti-North Texas pick than pro-Louisiana Tech one. The Mean Green had trailed by eight or more points in the first half of their first three road games before playing better in grabbing a 21-7 lead at Charlotte in their last game outside Denton.

The Bulldogs have led in three of their four home games but also have had moments of defensive sloppiness. A conservative play is recommended here.

Prediction: Lousiana Tech -3 (-115)

Half-Time Total Bet

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Another pick more against North Texas' defense, as the Mean Green have yielded 20 or more first-half points in three of their four road games. They do, however, have enough offense to warrant taking the over with the expectation the score will be somewhere in the 24-14 range for Louisiana Tech.

Prediction: OVER 36.5 points (-110)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.