Before leaving Conference USA, North Texas put together a solid campaign in 2022.
The Mean Green went 7-5 during the regular season and reached the conference title game. However, UNT concluded the year by losing to UTSA in the CUSA Championship and to Boise State in the Frisco Bowl.
As UNT moves on to the American Athletic Conference, what can the Mean Green hope to accomplish in 2023?
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North Texas Football’s AAC Title Odds
North Texas’ odds to win the AAC are +2500, via BetMGM.
North Texas Football’s Over/Under Win Total
North Texas’ win total Over/Under is 6, with Under 6 at -120 and Over 6 at +100.
North Texas Football’s Schedule
9/2 vs Cal
9/9 at FIU
9/16 at Louisiana Tech
9/30 vs Abilene Christian
10/7 at Navy
10/14 vs Temple
10/21 at Tulane
10/28 vs Memphis
11/4 vs UTSA
11/10 at SMU
11/18 at Tulsa
11/25 vs UAB
Bold indicates AAC contests.
Key North Texas Football Returners
2022 All-Conference USA 1st Team
DB Ridge Texada
KR Kaylon Horton
LB Mazin Richards
DB Logan Wilson
LS J.P. Hadley
Ayo Adeyi And Ikaika Ragsdale Powering North Texas’ Offense
North Texas has one of the strongest groups of running backs in the Group of Five.
Ayo Adeyi is one of the best AAC running backs in 2023 and was one of the most efficient backs in the country last season.
Adeyi was seventh in the FBS last year with a 7.21 yards-per-carry average. He was sixth in CUSA with 807 yards on the ground to go with four touchdowns. He made the conference’s All-Freshman team the year before after recording 496 yards and six touchdowns.
UNT’s top four rushers are back this season. Ikaika Ragsdale ran for 755 yards, which was also top 10 in CUSA, while scoring seven touchdowns. Oscar Adaway III (583 yards and five touchdowns in 2022) and Isaiah Johnson (246 yards and three touchdowns last season) are also back.
At quarterback, Chandler Rogers transferred to North Texas this offseason after playing at ULM. While appearing in 24 games and starting 18, he threw for 2,083 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions on a 67% completion rate.
Roderic Burns was UNT’s leading receiver last year and is returning. He totaled 676 yards and a touchdown on 40 receptions in 2022. Ja’Mori Maclin (16 receptions, 380 yards, and two touchdowns), Damon Ward (26 catches, 378 yards, and three touchdowns), and Jordan Smart (21 receptions, 331 yards, and one touchdown) are also returning. UNT also picked up former Texas Tech wideout Trey Cleveland to help the team’s receiving corps.
North Texas’ offensive line helped the Mean Green finish second in CUSA with 199.9 rushing yards per game and gave up the fewest sacks in the league with 11. Left tackle Kaci Moreka, left guard Gabe Blair, right guard Febechi Nwaiwu, and right tackle Jett Duncan all return after starting multiple games last season.
UNT also picked up transfer O-linemen who used to play for other Division I programs like Larry Moore (Texas Tech), Paula Vaipulu (Georgia Tech), and Ethan Miner (Arkansas State).
Ridge Texada, Mazin Richards, and Logan Wilson Are Back For North Texas’ Defense
Considering North Texas was seventh in CUSA last season in scoring defense with 31.7 points per game allowed and ninth in total defense with 459.9 yards per game allowed, the Mean Green have some improvements to make.
However, they should be capable of making strides. Six of their top 11 tacklers from last season are back, including some of their best defenders.
Ridge Texada was on the All-Conference USA first team last season. He was second in CUSA with 15 pass breakups and tied for fifth with three interceptions. He also added 43 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Mazin Richards is back after leading the team with 12.5 TFLs and 7.5 sacks. The second-team all-conference linebacker also added 78 total tackles and five quarterback hurries.
Logan Wilson is returning as well after making the All-CUSA honorable mention list last season. He broke up five passes and intercepted two while recording 50 tackles.
UNT also addressed the secondary by adding defensive backs Phillip Hill from UNLV and Damon Youngblood from Louisiana via the transfer portal.
North Texas Football Season Prediction
North Texas won’t win the AAC but will win at least seven games.
The Mean Green’s first season in the American will include some difficult moments. But if they defeat the teams they should and pull off an upset or two, finishing above .500 should be possible for a team which is in HERO Sports’ G5 Preseason Top 25 Rankings.
I think UNT will go 2-2 against its non-conference foes. That said, I don’t think it’s impossible for North Texas to win against Cal at home.
I also figure UNT will beat Temple, Tulsa, and UAB. That means among the Mean Green’s games against Navy, Tulane, Memphis, UTSA, and SMU, they only have to win twice. I think that’s possible.
And a winning season that quickly in the AAC should be regarded as a success for North Texas.