The North Texas Mean Green (8-4) will go to battle against the UNLV Rebels in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 EST on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at the Cotton Bowl and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Oddsmakers currently have the Mean Green listed as a 6.5-point favorite over the Rebels with the total set at 54.5 points.
Why UNLV Will Cover:
The Rebels may have won just seven games, but it was one of the most successful regular season in school history. This will be just the fourth bowl appearance for UNLV and the first since 2000. With a win over North Texas, the Rebels would tie their best season ever back in 1984.
One of the interesting things with UNLV is they are a perfect 3-0 in bowl games and have won each of those games by at least 17-points. This will however be the first time the Rebels have gone in as the underdog. That isn’t exactly a bad thing. UNLV is 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games when listed as the underdog. Adding to this is the fact that the Rebels are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs a team with a winning record, while the Mean Green are a mere 10-24 ATS in their last 34 games vs a team with a winning record.
UNLV is 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games when listed as the underdog.
North Texas has a pretty solid defense, but the Rebels have three playmakers offensively who figure to keep them competitive. Senior quarterback Caleb Herring has thrown for 2,522 yards with 22 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. A good chunk of his passes have ended up in the hands of junior wide out Devante Davis, who easily led the way with 77 catches for 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns. It’s not just the passing game the Mean Green will have to worry about. Senior running back Tim Cornett rushed for 1,251 yards and 15 touchdowns. Herring also can’t be overlooked in the ground game. He had 313 yards and five touchdowns on 112 attempts.
Why North Texas Will Cover:
The Mean Green are also putting an end to a long bowl drought. This will be the first time North Texas has participated in postseason play since the 2004 New Orleans Bowl. Unlike the Rebels, the Mean Green haven’t been able to make the most of their opportunities. North Texas’ only bowl win (1-5 overall) in school history came back in a 24-19 victory over Cincinnati in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl.
A lot of the credit for the Mean Green turnaround goes to third year head coach Dan McCarney. It certainly didn’t hurt that North Texas lost just 13 lettermen from last year coming into the season. The fact that a lot of these players have gone threw the growing pains and are enjoying the success together makes it that much more special.
I don’t think there’s any question that both of these teams will be excited about playing in this game, especially with it being on New Year’s Day. However, there is a key advantage for North Texas. The Cotton Bowl is just 50 miles from the Mean Green campus in Denton, Texas. The game will be played on a neutral field, but it’s going to feel like a home game for North Texas.
There’s a solid system in play that tells us to back the Mean Green on the spread. Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points off a double-digit road win in their last game against an opponent off back-to-back conference wins are 41-12 (77.4%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.
Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points off a double-digit road win in their last game against an opponent off back-to-back conference wins are 41-12 (77.4%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.
North Texas is also 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU win and 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games with a total listed between 49.5 to 56 points.
Early Lean – North Texas -6.5