Brandin Byrd ran 26 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday to lead North Texas over Tulsa 42-10.
Byrd scored his three touchdowns consecutively over the second and third quarters to extend the Mean Green lead to 35-10. Byrd’s second touchdown went for 91 yards.
“It was a great job by him,” North Texas coach Dan McCarney said of Byrd’s performance. “We gave him one more carry and he broke a long one [to get to 1,000 yards]. I’m proud of him.”
North Texas (8-4, 6-2 Conference USA) took the lead for good, 14-10, in the second quarter when Mike Marshall blocked a Tulsa punt and Jarrian Roberts returned it 8 yards for a touchdown.
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Antoinne Jimmerson scored the lone points of the fourth quarter on his second rushing touchdown. Jimmerson added 85 yards and two touchdowns to the Mean Green running game. UNT outrushed Tulsa 372-80.
Tulsa (3-9, 2-6) scored first when Mitchell Osborne forced a fumble and Will Barrow recovered and returned it 97 yards for a 7-0 lead. Trey Watts rushed 13 times for 75 yards to lead Tulsa’s mostly ineffective offense.
North Texas allowed only 82 yards in the first half and forced six three-and-outs.
North Texas earned a share of second place in C-USA’s West Division, and will now await an invitation to a bowl game for the first time since 2004.
“It started last January, when we started talking about what we needed to do to make sure last season [a 4-8 record] didn’t happen again,” McCarney said. “It’s a day-at-a-time process, and these seniors have one more game. They’re going to leave a great legacy.”