Frisco Bowl: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Boise State Broncos head to the Lone Star State for a date with the North Texas Mean Green. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
Deep in the heart of enemy territory.
FRISCO BOWL: North Texas Mean Green (7-6, 6-2 Conference USA) vs. Boise State Broncos (9-4, 8-0 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, December 17 — 7:15 PM MT/6:15 PM PT
WHERE: Toyota Stadium; Frisco, TX
WEATHER: Sunny, high of 49 degrees
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes ESPN, by following this link.
RADIO: The North Texas broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Mean Green Radio Network, 95.3 FM (KHYI) and 97.5 FM (KXXN). The Boise State broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Bronco Radio Network, including flagship 670 AM (KBOI) in Boise.
SERIES RECORD: The all-time series is tied, 3-3. In the last meeting on October 21, 2000, the Broncos defeated the Mean Green, 59-0, in Boise.
LAST GAME: North Texas lost on the road to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game, 48-27, while Boise State lost at home to Fresno State in the Mountain West football championship game, 28-16.
ODDS: Boise State -10
SP+ PROJECTION: Boise State by 6.9 (65% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 9.7
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: Boise State 72.76% win probability (31.46-23.10)
— Frisco Bowl (@FriscoBowlGame) December 4, 2022
The Boise State Broncos came up just short in their pursuit of another Mountain West championship, but they still have the chance to end 2022 on a high note in this year’s Frisco Bowl, where they will battle the North Texas Mean Green.
UNT has undergone a fair bit of upheaval since their own conference championship appearance on December 2, firing head coach Seth Littrell and hiring Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris to replace him. The Mean Green also lost offensive line coach Mike Broesch to Cal (who, coincidentally, have also hired former Boise State offensive coordinator Tim Plough), but the bowl game is being played in what is essentially their backyard — their university and the stadium are separated by just 23 miles — and they’ve been just unpredictable enough to think this contest could be flying under the radar.
Here’s how the Mean Green and Broncos can come away with a win to close out 2022.
Three Keys to a Boise State Victory
1. Don’t lose faith in Taylen Green.
The Broncos quarterback had the worst performance of his young career against Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game, but the fact that he attempted a career-high 38 passes is proof that they had confidence he would figure things out. It didn’t work as envisioned, but there are reasons to think Boise State would be well-served by just running it back and trying again.
Most of that reasoning comes down to the fact that North Texas’s pass defense can be beaten. They allowed opponents to complete 63.7% of throws in 2022, which ranked 9th in Conference USA, at 7.6 yards per attempt and had an interception rate of 1.7% while allowing 23 passing touchdowns. While the Broncos will need to be mindful of cornerback tandem Ridge Texada and Deshawn Gaddie, who have a combined three interceptions and 26 pass breakups between them, the Mean Green also allowed 49 plays of 20-plus yards through the air.
2. Get little wins on third and fourth down.
One element of the game that helped boost Boise State’s fortunes in midseason was improvement on money downs, but they have backslid a little bit on that front down the stretch. In the team’s last four games, the Broncos have converted on just 36.8% on third downs and only 3-of-7 fourth down tries, both figures being lower than their season-long averages.
The good news? North Texas hasn’t always offered stiff resistance in those same situations, allowing opponents to convert 46.3% of third downs and 53.6% of fourth down tries. If the Broncos can utilize their running game to stay on schedule, they may find themselves with a potentially massive advantage since they sport a power success rate (first down or touchdown with two or fewer yards to go on 3rd/4th down) of 75%, good enough to rank 23rd in the nation, while UNT has allowed a 77.3% rate, 114th among FBS defenses.
3. Crank up the heat in pass rushing situations.
After posting three sacks in the championship game loss to Fresno State, it seems safe to say this will be a strength-vs.-strength matchup between Boise State’s front six and North Texas’s offensive line. On the one hand, the Broncos have survived injuries to the likes of Ezekiel Noa, Demitri Washington, and George Tarlas to put up a 8.4% sack rate that ranks 20th among FBS defenses, but the Mean Green, led by senior center Manase Mose, have often given Austin Aune the time he needs to throw with a 2.7% sack rate that’s 11th overall on offense.
Three Keys to a North Texas Victory
1. Which Austin Aune will show up?
Perhaps no Mean Green player encapsulates the team’s mercurial performances this year than their starting quarterback. Though he had only 379 pass attempts on the aggregate, his 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions were both the second-most in CUSA. When examining his splits, however, it’s clear that UNT goes as far as Aune can take them: Nine of those 13 INT came in the team’s six losses, while his completion rate sat at 51.3% and his yards per attempt were two yards lower (7.7) than in their seven wins (9.8).
Put another way, Aune had three games this year with a completion rate above 70% and four more under 50% (perhaps not coincidentally, UNT lost all four of those contests). If he has a hot hand, the Mean Green can do a lot of damage against a very good Boise State secondary, but his track record suggests that won’t be a given.
2. Keep Boise State from running wild.
Much of the Broncos’ in-season improvement came on the shoulders of Green, George Holani, and Ashton Jeanty, but that could not have happened if not for dramatic improvement along the offensive line, as well: Coming into the Frisco Bowl, Boise State has allowed an overall stuff rate of 14.4%, which ranks 20th among FBS teams.
That could be a problem if North Texas, which sports a defensive stuff rate of only 12.4% that ranks 123rd in the country, can’t make headway in the backfield. Mazin Richards has been the tip of the spear all year long with a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss out of the DEVIL position, but nose guard Roderick Brown (4.5 TFLs) and defensive ends Kadren Johnson and Tom Trieb (12 TFLs) will be just as important in bottling up explosive plays. UTSA’s Kevorian Barnes, UAB’s DeWayne McBride, and UNLV’s Aidan Robbins all ran wild to varying degrees throughout the season against UNT’s defense, which would explain in part why the Mean Green allowed 5.24 yards per carry and 17 rushing touchdowns in their six losses.
3. Create a special teams break or two.
Where Boise State can boast of reliable kicker Jonah Dalmas, North Texas has a potential gamebreaker on kickoff returns in Kaylan Horton. A first-team all-Conference USA selection, Horton averaged 25.3 yards per return and had a touchdown on special teams against UNLV back in September, providing the kind of speed that can change the tenor of a game in a hurry.
The Mean Green will also need to be prepared for a Broncos unit that isn’t afraid to send everyone and find a break themselves from time to time, as they have blocked two kicks already in 2022.
It’s been a little while since the Broncos got to play a bowl game, so they definitely won’t want to waste the opportunity and may play with a little more fire than usual. Combined with North Texas’s suspect defense, Boise State should be able to win a back-and-forth battle and keep the Mean Green at arm’s length.
Boise State 34, North Texas 24