DENTON, Texas (9/4/07) The North Texas football team travels 35 miles to Dallas to take on Southern Methodist University in a storied rivalry that was renewed last year after a 13-year hiatus. This will be the first time North Texas has played at SMU since 1992 and the first time ever in Gerald J. Ford Stadium which was opened for play in 2000. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on the Mean Green Radio Network with George Dunham and Hank Dickenson.
North Texas suffered a 79-10 loss at the hands of eighth-ranked Oklahoma in the season opener Saturday in Norman, Okla. It was a rough debut for the Mean Green’s first-year head coach Todd Dodge, who came to North Texas late last December after a highly-successful career at nearby Southlake Carroll High School. SMU opens the season at home against Texas Tech today and will have just four days off before hosting North Texas Saturday. The Mustangs return nine starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that was 6-6 last year.
SMU leads the series with North Texas 27-4-1, including a 21-1-1 record in Dallas. North Texas won just one of the first 22 meetings from 1922-1976, but the Mean Green has won two of the last three meetings, including a 24-6 victory last year in Denton. North Texas has never lost to SMU in Denton (2-0) but has won only one game in Dallas, which was a 7-0 victory in 1933.
Prior to this year North Texas had lost four of its last five season-opening games, but had bounced back for a win in the second game in three of those four years. In 2002 North Texas lost to Texas 27-0 in the opener then defeated Nicholls State 23-0 the next week. In 2003 the Mean Green lost 37-3 at Oklahoma before defeating Baylor 52-14 in week two. Last year, North Texas lost 56-7 at Texas then came back to beat SMU 24-6 in its next game. The only time in the last five years that North Texas lost its first two games was 2004, which was also the last time the Mean Green won a conference championship and played in a bowl game.
Junior wide receiver Casey Fitzgerald had a career night against Oklahoma with seven catches for 126 yards and the team’s only touchdown. His previous best for catches in a game was two and he previous best for receiving yards was 54, both which came last year against Louisiana-Lafayette. The 69-yard touchdown reception he had against the Sooners was the longest reception of his career and the longest by any Mean Green player since 1999. After the first week of play for all Sun Belt Conference teams, Fitzgerald leads the league in both receptions and receiving yards.