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Seth Littrell presser notes, takeaways: UNT motivated by last season's loss to UTEP

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

North Texas last game against UTEP didn't go nearly as well as the Mean Green had hoped.

The Mean Green haven't forgotten that 52-24 loss heading into a rematch on Saturday, when UNT will have the chance to reach a milestone on homecoming.

The Mean Green (6-3) are 5-1 in Conference USA play and can clinch the league's West Division title and a berth in the conference title game with a win.

UNT would love to celebrate a division title at home. The fact it can get there with a win over UTEP, a team that handed the Mean Green an embarrassing loss only adds to the flavor of the game.

"It had better be," UNT coach Seth Littrell said when asked if the nature of its last game against UTEP will be a motivating factor for the Mean Green. "They dominated us last year in every aspect of the game. They were more physical than we were and coached better than we did. Each week in this league will be a battle. You have to prepare the right way and carry that preparation over to the game."

Littrell credited the way his players have met that challenge for helping spark a run that has seen UNT win five of its last six games. That surge has the Mean Green to the verge of clinching a spot in the C-USA title game for the first time.

"Winning the West would be big," Littrell said. "Competing for a championship is what we want to do. We want to leave a legacy and a standard not only for this year, but for the future and establish a consistent program."

And in other news from today's media session ...

-- Littrell confirmed that defensive tackle Bryce English will not play this week against UTEP. English hasn't played all season after breaking his foot in preseason practice. UNT is examining all its options in terms of appealing to the NCAA for additional eligibility. 

And in four other takeaways ...

2. UNT views UTEP as a dangerous team

UTEP is 0-9 on the season, but Littrell and his players view the Miners as a dangerous team. 

Mike Price took over for Sean Kugler in the middle of what has been a tough season for UTEP. The Miners have been blown out often this season, but have been in their share of games as well.

UTEP fell to Western Kentucky 15-14.

UNT is a huge favorite, but Littrell and his players believe the Miners are capable of pulling off the upset if they come out flat.

3. Winning close games has built UNT's confidence

UNT has made a habit of coming from behind this season and has gained confidence because of it.

The Mean Green trailed by six last week before driving for the game-winning touchdown in a 24-23 win over Louisiana Tech in the fourth quarter. UNT also came from behind to beat Texas-San Antonio in a thriller.

"That shows great leadership and resilience from our team," Littrell said. "We haven't put together a complete game yet."

4. Wilson being back in form will help UNT

Jeffery Wilson came back from a tough outing in a win over Old Dominion with a huge game against Louisiana Tech. The senior running back rushed 165 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.

"Jeffery ran extremely hard," Littrell said. "He gets in that rhythm and that mode and you see signs of him being special. He had a great game and was a huge reason we won."

UNT is hoping for a repeat this week.

5. UNT is aiming for big things the rest of the way

UNT has accomplished one of its goals by becoming bowl-eligible, but isn't satisfied with where it stands.

"We love the position we are in, but understand we still have unfinished business," Littrell said.

UNT's coach talked about reaching the goal of finishing unbeaten at home and winning C-USA's West Division now that the Mean Green are bowl-eligible.

FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas coach Seth Littrell has new goals in mind after the Mean Green reached one of their key missions for the season by becoming bowl-eligible.