It's Game Week!

<P>The long off-season wait for Orangebloods is almost over. Texas begins regular game week preparation today with kickoff for the season opener vs. North Texas just five days away. </P>

"We played them three years ago when they were starting to get better and then they've won their conference championship the last two years, they won their bowl game last year, so they're a team that's come a long way," Mack Brown said late last week of the Mean Green. "They played Memphis and Colorado State in their last two bowl games and they're picked to win their conference this year. I think the other thing is there's not a team in America that North Texas would rather beat than us."

The Texas head coach also pointed to the stellar defensive performance UNT put on the Horns' in the second half of their '02 meeting. The Horns jumped to a 27-0 halftime but sputtered offensively in the second half, failing to score again before the final gun.

"So anyone that thinks they're not going to play hard and they're not going to be in position where it's the most important game of their lives is crazy because they have nothing to lose," Brown added. "They come in here, play us great and beat Texas, what a feather in their cap for the rest of their year."

Here's a brief North Texas outlook (from the August edition of the Inside Texas magazine):

Give North Texas credit -- the Mean Green isn't afraid to venture beyond the warm, friendly confines of the Sun Belt Conference in its annual quest for national exposure and a shot at a big time upset over a traditional power. Hey, UNT will not be the worst team on Texas' schedule in 2003.

The visitors have played Texas tough in seven previous losses, dropping games by an average of just 11 points before falling 27-0 in the matchup that opened the 2002 season. In that one, the Longhorn ground game generated just 37 yards and the Horns were kept off the scoreboard during the entire second half. History isn't likely to repeat itself now that Cedric Benson has found happiness in the zone read offense. UNT's biggest offensive threat is running back Patrick Cobbs, who led the nation in rushing yards per game (152.7) in 2003. Cobbs compensated for his small stature (5-9, 205) to grab consensus all-conference honors. Quarterback Scott Hall returns as a first-team all-conference selection.

Defensively, UNT returns six starters from a unit that finished last season ranked 21st nationally in yards allowed. It’s difficult to replace the conference player of the year (DL Brandon Kennedy), but seniors Michael Pruitt and Evan Cardwell with give it a shot. Last season, Cardwell tied Kennedy with a team-high six sacks. The linebacker position will be a concern as three of last year’s all-conference starters have graduated. The backfield is strengthened by returning free safety Jonas Buckles, also a first-team recipient.

Head coach Darrell Dickey’s crew strives for its fourth consecutive conference title after nabbing 18 consecutive league wins and finishing with a respectable 9-4 record last season even while journeying to Oklahoma and Arkansas.

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