North Texas vs. SMU Odds, Pick, Prediction: Why to Bet on Mean Green in Week 2 (Sept. 11)
George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: DeAndre Torrey.
- SMU and North Texas prepare for a Week 2 game where scoring will be aplenty.
- The Mean Green and Mustangs put on offensive shows in their season openers, but betting on the total isn't the play.
- Check out Darin Gardner's full betting guide with odds, picks and predictions for the game.
North Texas vs. SMU Odds
|North Texas Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Do you like points? Because you’re probably going to see quite a few of them here.
These were two of the best offenses in the Group of Five last season, as well as two defenses that had their fair share of struggles. Each school cruised to blowout wins against FCS opponents in Week 1, so this will be the first real test for both sides.
SMU is a heavy favorite in this one, but North Texas has the offense to hang around. However, will the North Texas defense show any sort of a pulse after a dreadful 2020 and finally give the offense a little bit of help?
Mean Green Offense
There aren’t many teams out there who had as big of a gap between the offense and defense as North Texas in 2020. In terms of grading, PFF had the Mean Green’s passing attack and rushing attack as top-15 units nationally.
Uber-talented receiver Jaelon Darden is catching passes from Tom Brady now after leading the team in receiving yards last season, but there are still a lot of solid pieces for this 2021 offense.
In the backfield, running back DeAndre Torrey could be North Texas’ most explosive weapon this season. He has the second-highest rushing grade among all returning backs in the nation and beat up on Northwestern State last week to the tune of 244 rushing yards on 9.7 yards per carry.
This backfield was crowded last year, but Torrey should get a significant workload in 2021 after some departures.
At receiver, Deonte Simpson was expected to take over as WR1 for Darden, but it was junior Roderic Burns who led the way last week, with six catches for 114 yards and a score. Simpson and his deep speed should still be featured heavily this season, though, as he averaged over 20 yards per catch last season with a deep, 18.7-yard average depth of target.
2020 quarterback Austin Aune posted impressive metrics across the board but was actually beat out in camp by North Carolina transfer Jace Ruder. Ruder has the recruiting pedigree, as he was a four-star in 2018, but he had only attempted 10 passes in his career prior to last week’s start.
It’s tough to put any stock into an FCS game, but Ruder’s 83.4 PFF passing grade ranked 15th among quarterbacks last week. He also showed a willingness to attack down the field, just like Aune did last year, with the third-highest average depth of target in Week 1 (15.6). Expect the UNT offense to continue to be efficient and explosive in 2021.
Mean Green Defense
If Collin Wilson put out one of his matchup matrixes for this game, North Texas’ defensive column would have a lot of red. With rankings of 80th in Passing Success Pate, 99th in Rushing Success Rate, and 120th in Points Per Drive.
However, the Mean Green did bring in a new defensive coordinator in Phil Bennett to replace Clint Bowen, and he has overhauled the entire defensive coaching staff as well.
Bennett took a few years off from coaching, but his last three stops as a defensive coordinator came at Arizona State, Baylor and Pitt. Bennett utilizes a 4-2-5 scheme, which could be a welcome change since North Texas was almost strictly in three-down fronts last season.
The Mean Green didn’t play much man coverage at all, either, but I wouldn’t expect Bennett to utilize it too much this season based on the personnel.
SMU should have one of the Group of Five’s top passing offenses this season, despite losing a productive quarterback in Shane Buechele. His replacement is Tanner Mordecai, who was a talented Oklahoma signee in the 2018 class and has since transferred.
Although his first start came against FCS Abilene Christian last week, he still impressed with 317 yards on 10.6 yards per attempt and seven touchdowns. Only Troy’s Taylor Powell had a higher PFF passing grade than Mordecai in Week 1. We’ll see how he does in FBS competition, but the early returns on Mordecai are very positive.
At pass catcher, SMU has a loaded three-headed tandem in veteran deep-threat Reggie Roberson, Danny Gray and former Oklahoma tight end Grant Calcaterra. Roberson has battled injuries in his career but is incredibly explosive when on the field.
Over the past two years, he has averaged over 98 receiving yards per game. Calcaterra was one of the top tight ends in the nation while at Oklahoma, but he originally medically retired from football due to concussions before deciding to return.
In his first game back last week, Calcaterra found the end zone twice. With Mordecai and all of these weapons in the passing game, SMU’s aerial attack looks loaded this season.
The Mustangs also ranked 36th in Rushing Success Rate a year ago, and return running back Ulysses Bentley after a very productive 2020 season. All offensive line starters return from last season as well, which should lead to SMU having a very prolific offense yet again.
SMU’s defense wasn’t great in 2020, but it brought in a defensive coordinator with a very strong track record in Jim Leavitt this offseason.
He comes over from a short stay at Florida Atlantic, where he coordinated a defense that ranked ninth in the country in expected points added per play last season.
Scheme-wise, Leavitt will be switching the unit to a three-down front instead of SMU’s former scheme that used a lot of 4-3 looks. He loves to mix up looks with that scheme, which gives him the ability to get creative with how he rushes the outside linebackers from that look.
In coverage, Leavitt used much more zone coverage than SMU ran last season, which should be a change for the unit as well. FAU also blitzed at the sixth-highest rate in the country in 2020, per PFF, which almost doubled SMU’s blitz rate. Expect a more aggressive SMU defense in 2021, even though it still ranked highly in sack rate a season ago.
North Texas vs. SMU Matchup Analysis
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North Texas Offense vs. SMU Defense
SMU Offense vs. North Texas Defense
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North Texas vs. SMU Betting Pick
This line has mostly held steady at 22 throughout the week, with small movements here and there. I personally have this projected at SMU -17.9 and am invested in North Texas +22 in this spot.
I love this SMU team, but it all comes down to the number at the end of the day, and I see value on the Mean Green here.
North Texas has the offensive ability to hang around in what figures to be a high-scoring game, and I think SMU is going to have to really pour on the points to cover this number.
The North Texas defense is always concerning when placing a bet on them, but I have to take the value on this one.