Heart of Dallas Bowl Matchup: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. North Texas Mean Green
Date/Time: January 1st, 12:00 ET
Point Spread: North Texas -6.5
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels and the North Texas Mean Green probably never envisioned playing in January 1st bowl games this year, but alas, the two are coming together in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Runnin’ Rebels were set to run Head Coach Bobby Hauck out the door after last season, and for good reason. The truth of the matter is that we aren’t so sure how he managed to keep his job after such a tough time last season, which included losing five games in a row in October and losing to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in the second game of the year. This season though, the team ended with wins over the Air Force Falcons and San Diego State Aztecs as underdogs in each game, marking the third and fourth times respectively that UNLV won games SU as pups. QB Caleb Herring really made the difference. He threw for 2,522 yards and 22 TDs this season, but most importantly, he only had four picks. RB Tim Cornett helped with 1,251 yards and 15 scores, but Herring, also a mobile quarterback, was the difference between this team winning three games and seven games for sure.
The North Texas offense had a great season this year, scoring at least 21 points in all but one of its 12 games. For a team which only won four games last season, this is a huge upgrade for sure. The defense made strides for sure, but it was the offense which kept this team going when things were tough in Conference USA. The problem though, is that there were a lot of bad wins against teams like the UTEP Miners and the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in here, and that has to give some cause for concern. This ‘D’ did end up ranked ninth in the country, allowing 18.1 points per game on the season, but we know that was skewed based upon playing the worst teams in Conference USA. When the rubber met the road and the bowl teams started calling, this ‘D’ allowed 27 to the Ball State Falcons, 27 to the Ohio Bobcats, and 45 to the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Rebels have actually never lost a bowl game in their history, as they are a perfect 3-0 SU and ATS, winning all three games by at least 17 points. Their last bowl game though, was back in 2000 at the Las Vegas Bowl, so it is a wonder how this team is going to end up reacting to the pressure of playing on a New Year’s Day game. North Texas only has one bowl win in its history, and that came back in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl. This is the first time since 1959 that the Mean Green have played a bowl game outside of New Orleans after playing four straight seasons in the Bayou from 2001-2004.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.