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Five thoughts on UNT's loss to FAU

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

North Texas fell to Florida Atlantic 41-17  in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton.

Here are five thoughts on the game and UNT's bowl prospects:

1. Yeah, it hurts, but UNT is in the midst of a great season

UNT dreamed of turning the tide after being blasted by FAU 69-31 earlier this year. That didn't come close to happening, but its important to remember that the Mean Green were 1-11 just two years ago.

Seth Littrell has done a remarkable job with the Mean Green.  UNT still has a shot to win 10 games and is headed to a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since going to four straight New Orleans Bowls from 2001-04.

One loss does not change the fact UNT having a great year.

2. Mason Fine continues to be great for the Mean Green

Mason Fine threw for 356 yards and a touchdown and was a force in the running game. He officially rushed for 1 yard, but actually picked up 51 before sacks nine were taken into account.

Could he have gotten rid of the ball to avoid some of those sacks? Maybe.

The bottom line is that he was about the only source of offense UNT had.

He also said all the right things after some media members in Florida made a much big deal over a quote I put in the paper this week. Fine said he expected a different outcome if UNT played its best against the Owls in their second meeting.

People were trying to turn it into Fine being disrespectful to FAU. He wasn't being disrespectful. He was expressing confidence in his team, which is the way I read it -- and wrote it.

Fine handled it well.

3. UNT still has work to do defensively when it comes to facing top C-USA teams

UNT struggled with some of the better offensive teams in C-USA this season. FAU hung 69 on the Mean Green in the regular season and came back to score 41 in the rematch, and that doesn't take into account a boneheaded play by John Franklin III.

Franklin  was about to score late and dropped the ball at the end of what would have been a 68-yard touchdown run while showboating. UNT also gave up 43 to UAB and 38 to Old Dominion. 

4. Now is not to the time to be bitter over a bowl berth

UNT will find out its bowl destination on Sunday. Unless a game against a Power Five conference team falls into the Mean Green's lap, they are probably headed to New Orleans.

That is a great destination and its a game that UNT has history with. Yeah, playing a Sun Belt school isn't all that attractive, but it's still a terrific deal for UNT.

5. FAU is the real deal

It's pretty amazing what Lane Kiffin has accomplished so quickly at FAU. The Owls finished just 3-9 last season.

Kiffin talked in his post game press conference about how many good players he inherited. That certainly helps, but the fact FAU is sitting at 10-3 now can be attributed largely to Kiffin.

It will be interesting to see if Kiffin sticks around. UNT fans talk all the time about how great it would be if Littrell stuck with the Mean Green and how much potential the program has. 

One could make the same argument for FAU. 

FEATURED PHOTO: Florida Atlantic defensive back Jalen Young returns an interception during the Owls win over North Texas in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday at FAU Stadium. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)