The Friday night lights aren't reserved exclusively for high school football. ESPN 2 is set to air North Texas and SMU's showdown at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 10 from Gerald J. Ford Stadium in the heart of Dallas.
SMU has dominated the "Safeway Bowl" since the two teams renewed their annual contest in 2014, winning seven of nine. Historically, these games haven't been nail-biters, the closest margin of victory coming in 2016 when SMU outlasted the Mean Green 34-21. Last year was no exeception. The Mustangs raced to a 24-3 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the first half and cruised to a 48-10 victory. SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai carved the North Texas secondary for 432 yards and four touchdowns, one of which was a 51-yard strike to returning wide receiver Jordan Kerley.
But the game was closer than the final score indicated. North Texas made five red zone trips on the day that yielded a meager 10 points. The Mean Green feel new head coach Eric Morris is the answer to their woes deep in oppornent territory, as he piloted Washington State's offense last season to points on 91.5% of their red zone drives. Morris will lean on returning running back Oscar Adaway III, who was the lone bright spot on offense in last year's game rushing for 117 yards and a score on 20 carries.
SMU fields a far different team in 2023 than the one that stomped UNT. Mustang fans have high expectations new quarterback Preston Stone after he went 11-for-17 for 219 yards and a touchdown in his first start lat year, which lasted merely one quarter before he suffered a season ending injury. The roster is loaded with transfers, including Jaylan Knighton (Miami) and L.J. Johnson Jr. (Texas A&M) in the backfield. On defense, former Coppell standout Jonathan McGill is set to start at safety after serving as a team captain at Stanford.
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