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UNT's key rival SMU has lost QB Matt Davis, who is entering the NFL draft

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

SMU, one of North Texas' key rivals, saw a vital player elect to leave the program today.

Matt Davis, who began the 2016 season as the Mustangs starting quarterback, will not to pursue a sixth season of eligibility and will enter the NFL draft.

Davis released a statement today saying that he will not return for the 2017 campaign. That development is of particular interest for UNT for a couple of reasons.

One, SMU is a team UNT faces on an annual basis. And two, Mean Green linebacker Joshua Wheeler delivered the hit on Davis that tore his ACL and ended his season.

SMU ended up turning to Ben Hicks, who threw for 2,263 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 starts.

Hicks will now be the odds-on favorite to start when UNT heads to SMU for their annual showdown on Sept. 9. That game will be a key opportunity for both programs to inch closer to earning a bowl bid.

UNT opens at home against Lamar, while SMU begins its season at home against Stephen F. Austin. 

There is a good chance that both teams will be 1-0 heading into their showdown at Ford Stadium after beating FCS opponents. The winner is potentially looking at a 2-0 start heading into a game against a Power Five opponent on the road.

UNT faces Iowa in the third week of the season, while SMU will face TCU.

The Mean Green now have a whole lot better idea of what they will face heading into their game against the Mustangs now that Davis has elected not to return to SMU.