The North Texas Mean Green take on the UNLV Runnin Rebels in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's Day. The game is scheduled for a noon start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPNu. Currently the odds for the game have North Texas favored by about a touchdown.
The Runnin Rebels are going bowling for the first time since the 2000 season. It seemed to be one of those seasons where Bobby Hauck was up against the wall — win or find another job. But UNLV was able to win seven games this season which gave Hauck an extension with the school.
North Texas can score some points, averaging 31.5 per game. The Rebels can score points as well, totaling 31.3 points per game by themselves.
Caleb Herring threw 25 TD passes for the Rebels this season compared to just four interceptions. The Rebs should be able to move the football in this contest, but of the two squads North Texas does have the better defense. They rank 27th best in the country in total yards given up per game.
Skilled players Tim Cornett (RB) and Devante Davis (WR) both had big seasons for UNLV. Cornett ran for better than 1,200 yards this season and 15 scores while Davis caught 77 passes for nearly 1,200 yards himself and 14 scores. The Mean Green defense will certainly have some assignments with those two.
North Texas won six of their last seven games, including a 42-10 beatdown against Tulsa. They have a third-year starting quarterback in Derek Thompson. He was sacked only 10 times this season, which is pretty solid as the Mean Green have an awesome offensive line.
This game is being played in Dallas, which means the Rebels are going to be traveling. UNLV came into this year having lost 23 straight football games on the road, but the Rebs went 3-2 away from home this year. That's certainly improvement. Herring has a lot to do with it as he's a big-play quarterback.
UNLV is playing in a bowl game for just the fourth time in school history and their first in 13 seasons. North Texas is playing in the school's fifth bowl — from 2001-04 they played in four straight New Orleans bowls. Both of these teams had been getting used to losing seasons but this year they've both assured themselves of a winning year.
We like the big-play ability of UNLV to pull of a shocker in this one. The Mean Green allowed just 18 points per game this season. The Rebs won't be able to win this game if it's a low-scoring affair. We like points in this one.
Free Pick: UNLV 31, North Texas 28
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