(11/9/02) - Senior Kevin Galbreath and sophomore Patrick Cobbs once again combined to spark the Mean Green as North Texas battled to a 10-0 shutout victory over Idaho at Fouts Field on Saturday to remain unbeaten in Sun Belt Conference play.
Galbreath rushed for 105 yards -- his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance and 14th of his career -- while Cobbs scored the game's only touchdown as the Mean Green (5-5, 4-0) took care of business to set up next week's conference championship battle with New Mexico State.
Both the Mean Green and Aggies are unbeaten in Sun Belt play. The winner of next Saturday's game at Fouts Field (3:05 p.m. kickoff) will claim the conference title and earn a berth in this year's New Orleans Bowl game.
"We came in at the half and made some adjustments," said North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey. "but the bottom line is we blocked harder and ran a lot better in the second half."
North Texas' nationally-ranked defense shared the Fouts Field spotlight by shutting out the Vandals (2-8, 1-3) for the defense's third shutout this season. It marked the first time since the 1986 season that Idaho had suffered a shutout loss.
After a scoreless first half, the Mean Green got its offense clicking with the opening drive of the third quarter. Galbreath broke a 16-yard run on North Texas' first offensive play following the kickoff and the pair led the march down field before Cobbs broke up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown run with 11:52 left in the quarter. The TD drive covered 75 yards and took seven plays.
After the Mean Green defense held Idaho to three plays and out on the Vandals' next possession, North Texas drove 65 yards in 11 plays before Nick Bazaldua come on to kick a 19-yard field goal.
"I'm very proud of the way our defense played tonight," Dickey said. "When they get challenged they always seem to rise to the challenge. They all love to play this game and always give a lot of effort every time they go out on the field."
Cobbs finished the game with 78 yards rushing on 15 carries while Ja'Mel Branch rushed five times for an additional 30 yards. Redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Smith completed three passes for 50 yards.
Next Saturday's title game between North Texas and New Mexico State marks the first time Fouts Field has hosted a conference championship game since 1973.