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Tiger Talk: An early look at Mizzou vs. North Texas

Tiger Talk: An early look at Mizzou vs. North Texas

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Northwestern St North Texas Football

North Texas running back DeAndre Torrey (3) carries the ball on a touchdown run against Northwestern State during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 in Denton, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W.Rodriguez)

Coming This Week

The Tigers dip back into nonconference play for the final time in the regular season, hosting North Texas (1-3) for Saturday’s 3 p.m. homecoming game. The Mean Green from Conference USA were trending in the right direction in 2017-18 with back-to-back nine-win seasons but have gone just 9-17 the past three years under Seth Littrell. Littrell, 43, now in his sixth season in Denton, Texas, is the second straight head coach on Mizzou’s schedule who was a captain on Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship team, following Tennessee’s Josh Heupel. Littrell, a fullback on that Sooners team, made the rounds as an offensive assistant at Kansas, Texas Tech, Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina before landing the Mean Green job after the 2015 season. His athletics director is Wren Baker, Mizzou’s former deputy and interim AD. UNT has dropped three straight games to SMU 35-12, UAB 40-6 and Louisiana Tech 24-17. Like Mizzou, the Mean Green have struggled defensively, allowing 6.1 yards per play (No. 103 in FBS) and 411.8 yards per game (No. 94) but counter with one of the nation’s best running games.

Player to Watch

Another week, another prolific running back for the Tigers to tackle. North Texas’ DeAndre Torrey comes into Saturday’s game ranked No. 3 in the country in rushing, averaging 129 yards per game. He’s averaged 5.7 yards per attempt and scored four touchdowns for the Mean Green. The bulk of his production came in a Week 1 victory over FCS opponent Northwestern State (244 yards, three touchdowns), but he’s coming off a 119-yard game against Louisiana Tech. The 5-foot-7, 199-pound senior is in his fourth season at UNT after arriving from junior college.

He Said It

“Offensively, they run a similar style to Tennessee (with) not as much tempo but after what happened last week, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t pick it up. ... Every week’s a challenge, but for us the biggest challenges is not going to be North Texas. It’s going to be us and making sure that we have the right frame of mind and confidence to play at a high level.” — Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz

Injuries

Mizzou defensive tackle Darius Robinson has missed two straight games with a lower leg injury. Slot receiver Mookie Cooper and tight end Niko Hea, regulars in the offensive rotation, both sat out the Tennessee game. MU releases updated injury list information on Thursdays.

Series History

This marks the second all-time matchup, following a 28-7 Mizzou victory in 1995, which marked North Texas’ return to the Division I ranks. On that day, MU’s Brock Olivo, Devin West and Ernest Blackwell ran wild for the Tigers, combining for 309 yards on the ground. The Mean Green played a hellacious schedule that fall with seven games against current Power 5 teams, including road losses at Oklahoma, Louisiana State and Alabama. The teams are scheduled to meet three more times: in Denton, Texas, in 2030 and twice more in Columbia in 2031-32.

— Dave Matter

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