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Prediction: UNT will win the C-USA West Division title with win over UTEP

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

UTEP at North Texas

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Apogee Stadium

Records: UNT 6-3, 5-1 Conference USA; UTEP 0-9, 0-5 Conference USA

Last meeting: UTEP 52, UNT 24 (2016)

Last game: UNT 24, Louisiana Tech 23; Middle Tennessee 30, UTEP 3

Series: UNT leads, 14-8-3

TV: ESPN3

What's on the line?

UNT can clinch the Conference USA West Division title with a win over UTEP in its homecoming game.

The Mean Green are on a roll after winning five of their last six games. UNT winning the division title and appearing in the C-USA title game seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. The Mean Green's last two conference games are against UTEP and Rice, who are a combined 1-17.

Even though it is an overwhelming favorite in the division, UNT can avoid any drama in a game at Rice to close the regular season by beating UTEP at home.

What is more intriguing is the battle for home field advantage in the C-USA title game. The division winner with the highest regular season winning percentage in league play will host. The tiebreaker is head-to-head matchups.

UNT is 5-1 in league play and lost its only conference game at Florida Atlantic, which leads the East at 5-0. The Mean Green must hope that they can win out and that FAU loses twice. That isn't out of the question considering FAU still has three games left, including a game at Louisiana Tech and its annual showdown with Florida International.

FIU is 6-2, while Louisiana Tech is a lot better than its 4-5 record shows. The Bulldogs need to win two of their last three games to qualify for a bowl and will be motivated to play.

If UNT keeps winning, it could have a chance to host the C-USA title game.

When UNT has the ball

UNT didn't have its best game offensively last week in a 24-23 win over Louisiana Tech, but made the plays it needed to late to pull out the win. Jeffery Wilson scored the game-winning touchdown on a 14-yard run in the fourth quarter.

UNT is averaging 35.9 points per game, a total that ranks second in C-USA.

UTEP has struggled at times defensively and is allowing 36.2 points per game.

When UTEP has the ball

UNT is coming off a solid defensive game against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs were driving for the potential go-ahead score in the closing minutes before UNT's defense stiffened.

Jonathan Barnes was forced to attempt a field goal from 53 yards out and missed. UNT is allowing 36.2 points per game and will have a chance to improve on that total against a struggling UTEP offense that is averaging just 11.4 points per game.

UTEP is a run-first team that has struggled to get anything going all season. Quardraiz Wadley leads the Miners with an average of 69.2 rushing yards per game.

Prediction

The setup for UNT's game this weekend couldn't be more perfect for the Mean Green. UNT can clinch the C-USA West Division title at Apogee on homecoming.

Beating a UTEP team that pounded the Mean Green last season 52-24 would be rewarding for UNT. That loss prevented the Mean Green from evening its record at 6-6 and was a big reason UNT finished with a losing record at 5-8 after dropping its bowl game to Army.

UNT coach Seth Littrell said this week that the Mean Green haven't put together a complete performance yet this season. They will this weekend.

Score: North Texas 51, UTEP 13

FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas  wide receiver Michael Lawrence breaks free from Old Dominion safety Sean Carter during the Mean Green's win over the Monarchs last week at Apogee Stadium. (Jake King/DRC)