DENTON The University of North Texas has announced its 2003 football schedule, which is highlighted by five home games, including the home-opener against Baylor on Sept. 6.
North Texas opens the season at Oklahoma on Aug. 30, giving the Mean Green back-to-back games against Big 12 opponents. The schedule also features games at Air Force and Arkansas before beginning Sun Belt Conference play against Louisiana Lafayette in Denton on Sept. 27.
Three of North Texas’ first four opponents played in bowl games last season, including Oklahoma which defeated Washington State in the Rose Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 5 in the nation. Air Force and Arkansas were also bowl participants following the 2002 regular season.
“We are excited about playing four very good teams before beginning an extremely challenging Sun Belt schedule,” head coach Darrell Dickey said. “We have made strides in our ability to play with the top teams in the country over the past few years and that will be tested again this fall.”
This is the second straight year that North Texas is playing a 12-game schedule, but this is the first year it’s facing a seven-game Sun Belt Schedule. Utah State becomes a conference opponent in 2003 and North Texas will host the Aggies for homecoming on Oct. 18. Troy State is the fifth non-conference opponent on the schedule.
The Oklahoma game is the first in a two-game deal that has the Mean Green returning to Norman to play in 2007. The Baylor series will return to Waco in 2004 while Troy State will complete its contract with North Texas that same season in Denton. Air Force will make a trip to Fouts Field in 2005 as the return game in its contract with the Mean Green while this will be the first of a three-game deal with Arkansas, which has North Texas returning to Fayetteville in 2007 and 2010.
“One of the challenges we faced when I came here was football scheduling,” Athletic Director Rick Villarreal said. “We have been able to improve the schedule by securing more attractive games at home while not sacrificing the level of competition. This schedule is a step in the right direction for the continued growth and visibility of North Texas football.”
North Texas begins defense of its third consecutive Sun Belt title against the Ragin’ Cajuns in the earliest home conference game for North Texas since 1987. It will also be the first time since 1994 that the Mean Green has two games at Fouts Field in September.
The conference schedule features home games against Louisiana Lafayette, Utah State and Arkansas State. The Mean Green will go on the road to face Idaho, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Monroe and New Mexico State in league games. North Texas holds the second-longest current conference winning streak in the nation with 11, trailing only Miami which has 24 straight league victories.
North Texas finished 8-5 in 2002, including a 24-19 victory over Conference USA co-champion Cincinnati in the New Orleans Bowl. Season tickets are on sale now through the North Texas ticket office at (940) 565-2527.
2003 North Texas Football Schedule
Aug. 30 -- at Oklahoma
Sept. 6 -- BAYLOR
Sept. 13 -- at Air Force
Sept. 20 -- at Arkansas
Sept. 27 --LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE*
Oct. 4 -- Open
Oct. 11 -- at Idaho*
Oct. 18 -- UTAH STATE* (Homecoming)
Oct. 25 -- at Middle Tennessee*
Nov. 1 -- TROY STATE
Nov. 8 -- at Louisiana Monroe*
Nov. 15 -- ARKANSAS STATE*
Nov. 22 -- at New Mexico State*
* Sun Belt Conference Game