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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Malone Stadium (30,427) -- Monroe, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UNT 3-2, ULM 2-2. Away Record: UNT 1-5, ULM 4-2. Neutral Record: UNT 0-0, ULM 0-0. Conference Record: UNT 3-3, ULM 4-2. Series Record: ULM leads, 15-13.
GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks will try to bounce back from a recent fall in the Sun Belt Conference standings as they play host to the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday afternoon.
North Texas has had an up-and-down season in the Sun Belt Conference, going 3-3 in league play. After getting down early at home last week against South Alabama, it finished the game strong to claim a 24-14 win, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process. The Mean Green will need to win both of its remaining games to become bowl eligible, but they haven't won back-to-back games all season.
ULM's 6-1 start to the campaign cemented its place among the best mid-major teams in the nation, and it had a clear path to the Sun Belt Conference title. Since then however, the Warhawks have faltered with two straight losses in league play to Louisiana (40-24) and Arkansas State (45-23). They are still bowl eligible for just the third time in school history and would like a strong finish to assure themselves their first bowl appearance.
This bout marks the 29th meeting between these two schools, with ULM holding a slim 15-13 advantage. The Warhawks have won 10 of the 14 matchups in Monroe.
The Mean Green's offense has been stuck in neutral for most of the season, ranking eighth in the conference in scoring at just 21.1 ppg
Derek Thompson has been a steady presence under center, as he has thrown for at least 200 yards in seven games this season, but he is coming off his worst performance of the year last week against South Alabama (12-of-28, 106 yards, TD, INT). He has 13 touchdowns (two rushing) and 10 interceptions on the season.
Ivan Delgado leads the team in both receptions (34) and receiving yards (474) but he has yet to find the end zone. Brelan Chancellor has been the team's big-play threat with 25 catches for 450 yards (18.0 ypc) and five touchdowns.
North Texas has an impressive three-headed monster at running back, with Brandin Byrd (681 yards, three TDs), Antoinne Jimmerson (544 yards, five TDs), and Jeremy Brown (380 yards, three TDs) all showing promise as ball carriers. Jimmerson is also an impressive receiver with 12 catches for 205 yards and three scores.
After giving up 75 total points in its previous two losses, the North Texas defense bounced back against South Alabama by allowing just 303 yards of offense while recovering two fumbles. The unit allows an averge of 26.7 ppg.
With 94 tackles, Zachary Orr has 19 more stops than his closest teammate, and he also accounts for two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Marcus Trice and Zac Whitfield also have two interceptions, and K.C. Obi has 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
ULM has the Sun Belt's most potent offense (36.1 ppg), but things have clearly not been the same since the loss of star quarterback Kolton Browning to injury two weeks ago. The Warhawks have averaged just 23.5 ppg during their two-game losing streak.
With more than 300 total yards per game and 28 touchdowns, Browning was making a strong case for Sun Belt Player of the Year honors before suffering a leg injury against Louisiana, and while he hasn't officially be ruled out for the rest of the season, his return looks bleak. Cody Wells has performed admirably in his absence (.638 completion percentage, 659 yards, four TDs, four INTs), but he clearly doesn't bring the same type of dynamic playmaking ability to the mix.
The injury bug bit in the backfield as well, as leading rusher Jyruss Edwards (438 yards, six TDs) has been lost for the year. Monterrell Washington (325 yards, six TDs) has played well since being inserted into the starting lineup. He tallied 108 total yards and a pair of scores against Arkansas State last week.
Brent Leonard (76 receptions, 851 yards, eight TDs) has been one of the nation's hottest receivers. With a career-high 14 receptions last week, he has 34 catches for 428 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games alone.
The Warhawks defense (30.1 ppg, 405.9 ypg) was tolerable when they were putting up big point totals on offense, but now their deficiencies have become much more glaring. They've given up 95 total points over the last two weeks.
The defense's saving grace is its ability to force turnovers, as it has 13 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. Isaiah Newsome and DaCorris Ford each have three picks, and R.J. Young has a team-high 66 tackles to go along with 7.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and two fumble recoveries.
ULM is not the same team without Browning, and it looks as though its hopes for a conference championship are all but dashed. However, the Warhawks are still in play for a bowl game, and it should be able to do enough at home to take down an unspectacular North Texas team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 34, North Texas 30
11/14 10:44:10 ET
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