Indiana, UNT Renew Old Rivalry

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Dan Carney, UNT head football coach.

    North Texas football coach Dan McCarney understands how Indiana coach Kevin Wilson operates.

    Wilson's rapid-tempo offense makes it tough to keep pace, prevents substitutions and creates mismatches.

    "They want you to be misaligned or to miss a play," McCarney said. "They do dictate some of what you can do with your personnel. So you better get lined up and get ready because they will take advantage of that."

    McCarney has seen this before and he didn't even have to pop in tapes of the Hoosiers to remind himself.

    All McCarney had to do is think back to the last time these coaches were on the field together back in January 2009. Wilson was Oklahoma's offensive coordinator. McCarney was the defensive line coach at Florida. The venue was Miami, site of the national championship game.

    McCarney won that one 24-14.

    But with both coaches now in their first season at new programs, McCarney is relying on his knowledge to help the Mean Green (0-3) prepare for their first Big Ten opponent.

    "You will see probably the fastest tempo you'll ever see at a North Texas home game," McCarney said. "You can do all you can to simulate it. What we did at Florida was trying to have two scout teams coming at you, and it still wasn't enough to simulate it. They almost make it impossible to match tempo because they are so fast."

    The Hoosiers (1-2) have certainly cranked things up with Wilson's arrival.

    In the season-opener, the play clock rarely hit single-digits. Since then, Indiana has been slightly more deliberate. The result: Virginia needed an 11-point rally in the final 96 seconds to beat Indiana in Week 2, and last week, Wilson finally got his first win.

    Up next is his first road trip as Indiana coach.

    And while this game won't come with the high stakes from 2009, both coaches think it could send a critical message about the direction of their programs.

    In McCarney's case, he just wants to prove the Mean Green can win in their shiny new stadium.

    For Wilson, it's all about changing the Hoosiers' culture.

    "I think this game is going to be a bigger challenge than most," he said. "I'm excited to see can we practice hard after success, can we take it on the road to North Texas."

    Road trips have been rather unkind to the Hoosiers in the pre-Wilson era.

    Since winning at Oregon in September 2004, the Hoosiers are 8-29 outside of Bloomington. And when playing beyond the state borders or those states bordering Indiana, the Hoosiers have won only game during that span -- Sept. 29, 2007, at Iowa.

    Why would this week be different?

    Well, the Mean Green have yet to win under McCarney and come into Saturday's game with the NCAA's worst-ranked defense. But Wilson points out that North Texas is the nation's only team to face three unbeaten opponents.

    "To me, I look at their defense and I don't think it's the worst in the country. I think that's just a number put up by three good teams," Wilson said referring to losses against Alabama, Florida International and Houston.

    "It's going to be a challenge for us, so I don't think this is a game where we just line up and here we go," Wilson added.

    The Mean Green have just eight wins since 2007 and are 12-96 all-time against BCS schools, and McCarney is trying to improve the football program, its reputation and the team's classroom grades.

    It's all a work in progress.

    But at least North Texas has receiver Brelan Chancellor, who leads the nation with 226.7 yards per game in all-purpose yards, and Lance Dunbar, who is chasing the school's career rushing record.

    Will that be enough to keep Wilson's speedy offense off the field?

    McCarney knows it wasn't easy for Florida, and it won't be any easier Saturday.

    "I enjoy coaching against people I really respect and I really respect Indiana and Kevin Wilson," McCarney said. "You know who deserves to be head coaches and who should get those opportunities and it's good to see someone like Kevin getting that opportunity. They're going to come into this game believing they can win it, and we're going to come in here believing we can win it."