by DeMario Davis
On January 1, 2014, the North Texas Mean Green (8-4, 6-2 in CUSA) will face the UNLV Rebels (7-5, 5-3 in MWC) in the third annual Heart of Dallas Bowl, presented by Plains Capital Bank, at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas at 9:00 a.m. PT on ESPNU.
NORTH TEXAS MEAN GREEN
For the Mean Green, their regular season couldn’t have ended any better, especially with 2013 being their first season in Conference USA. They now join Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Houston, and Baylor in the college football bowl season. The State of Texas has six out of 12 Texas teams playing in bowl games in 2013 – the highest among any state.
Going into the 2013 season, there were many questions about the Mean Green. UNT opened the $79 million dollar Apogee Stadium in 2011, and it didn’t make a difference for the team. They had back-to-back losing seasons in 2011 and 2012. In Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, UNT head coach Dan McCarney said that his 2013 team was the best team that he has had since he took over the team in 2011. The team pulled off impressive wins against Rice, Tulsa, Southern Mississippi, and Louisiana Tech. They now have their first winning season since 2004, and are on the cusp of ending a bowl drought of almost a decade.
The UNLV football team is heading to its first bowl game in 13 years. It has been a long journey for the Rebels, and it has been almost three decades since the Rebels left home for a bowl game. The last time was when Randall Cunningham quarterbacked the squad in the California Bowl played in Fresno. The last two were played in Las Vegas (Las Vegas Bowl). The Rebels are undefeated (3-0) in bowl games.
The Cotton Bowl is not unchartered territory for the Rebels. UNLV has played at Cotton Bowl Stadium once before, as the Rebels took on SMU there on Oct. 24, 1998, when both teams were part of the old 16-team Western Athletic Conference.
“Obviously our program is very excited to be playing in a bowl game — particularly one on New Year’s Day” UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck said. “I’m very excited for our players who have worked so hard to have this experience. We’re going to prepare hard, have fun and have a good performance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on January 1.” Source: www.unlvrebels.com
HOW DID THEY FINISH?
UNLV, which won their final two regular-season games to reach the seven-win mark for only the third time since that 1984 season, finished in a tie for third place in the MWC West Division, while UNT tied for second place in the C-USA’s West Division.
BY THE NUMBERS:
ONE- This is the first time that the North Texas Mean Green has been bowl eligible since 2004, when the team won four consecutive four consecutive Sun Belt Conference titles starting in 2000.
TWO- The Mean Green has outscored opponents 136-73 in the second quarter this season, while UNLV has been outscored 151-132.
THREE- The UNLV Rebel offense has lost just four fumbles this season, which ranks third among both FBS and FCS schools.
FOUR- Four players from the Rebels will be making the trip back to familiar territory for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Senior defensive lineman Parker Holloway (Trinity Christian Academy), Junior defensive back Kenneth Perry, and Sophomore defensive backs Brandon Baker, and David Greene (Lancaster HS, Skyline HS), all hail from the Dallas area. The Rebels have 10 players from Texas
FIVE- The Heart of Dallas bowl will be the fifth meeting between the two teams. The Rebels lead the series 4-0. The closest margin of victory is one point, when the Rebels edged the Mean Green 27-26 in their first meeting (November 1, 1986). The largest margin of victory was the last time the two teams met (September 16, 2000). The Rebels blanked the Mean Green 38-0.
SIX- This will be the 13th bowl game between Conference USA, an the Mountain West Conference. The series is tied 6-6.
SEVEN- The Rebels finished the 2013 Mountain West campaign with a 7-5 record, and a 4-3 mark at home.
EIGHT- The Mean Green finished the season at 8-4, and finished with a 6-2 conference mark in their first season in Conference USA play.
NINE- Mean Green Senior wide receiver Breland Chancellor’s kickoff return average of 28.1 yards per return ranks ninth in the NCAA. He has one kickoff, and punt return for touchdowns this season.
TEN- Junior defensive back, Kenneth Perry has averaged 1.3 passed defended per game for the Rebels. His 16 passes defended ranks 10th in the nation among defensive backs.
For more information about the Heart of Dallas Bowl, visit www.heartofdallas.org