North Texas’ bowl drought will end in Dallas on New Year’s Day

Posted Sunday, Dec. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Heart of Dallas Bowl North Texas (8-4) vs. UNLV (7-5) 11 a.m. Jan. 1, Cotton Bowl, Dallas TV: ESPNU

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

North Texas’ nine-year bowl drought formally ended on Sunday when the school accepted an invitation to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 at the Cotton Bowl.

The Mean Green, a member of Conference USA, will play UNLV, a member of the Mountain West and another bowl-starved institution, at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The Rebels’ invitation ends a string of 13 seasons without an appearance in college football’s postseason.

“I’m ecstatic for this team and these coaches and the fans and everybody who’s been missing out on this for too long,” said North Texas coach Dan McCarney, who took over a program that went 2-10 in 2010.

“It feels great because I wanted it so badly for these kids. None have even been through winning season [in college]. And for those 22 seniors … it means so much.”

The game, televised by ESPNU, was supposed to pit teams from Conference USA and the Big Ten.

The matchup was finalized through a trade of bowls made among the Big Ten and Mountain West conferences, mostly for logistical purposes, but also with the big hand of ESPN, which has the liberty to modify some of the bowls it televises in order to create matchups it prefers.

North Texas earned bowl eligibility with an 8-4 record after going 4-8 the season before, marking the biggest turnaround at the school from one season to the next since 1984.

The bowl appearance marks the first for North Texas since a string of four consecutive from 2001-04 at the New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt Conference champions.

The nine-year bowl drought was the sixth longest in the nation.

A lesser known fact: The game will represent North Texas’ fourth at the Cotton Bowl in the Mean Green’s 100 years of football history, though the first in the postseason.

North Texas faced Brigham Young there in 1971 and followed with regular-season games in 1981 against Oklahoma State and UT Arlington.

The Mean Green is 0-3.

“To have the opportunity to play in front of our fans in our back yard, that’s what we wanted as a football team, the seniors especially,” said quarterback Derek Thompson, a fifth-year senior and witness to a program that went 14-34 in four previous seasons.

This will be the Mean Green’s second appearance in a New Year’s Day bowl. North Texas played on Jan. 1 in the 1948 Salad Bowl, a predecessor of today’s Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix.

The Mean Green ran off five consecutive victories during one stretch and finished the regular season in second in the West Division of Conference USA, sharing that spot with UT San Antonio.

The Roadrunners, in their second season in the FBS, were not eligible for a bowl.

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Saturday, August 30Full Scoreboard
NY Yankees0Final | Box
Toronto «2
Detroit3Final | Box
Chicago WSox «6
Chicago Cubs «5Final | Box
St. Louis1
Cincinnati2Top 8th | Box
Pittsburgh3@theBallpark | TV: FS1, FSN-OH, ROOT-PIT
Minnesota 8/30 7:05 PM ET
Baltimore TV: FSN-N, MASN
Miami 8/30 7:10 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FSN-FL, FSN-S
Detroit 8/30 7:10 PM ET
Chicago WSox TV: FSN-DET, WGN
Texas 8/30 7:10 PM ET
Houston TV: TXA-21, CSN-HOU
Cleveland 8/30 7:10 PM ET
Kansas City TV: STO, FSN-KC
Philadelphia 8/30 7:10 PM ET
Boston 8/30 7:10 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: NESN, Sun Sports
Colorado 8/30 8:10 PM ET
Chicago Cubs 8/30 8:15 PM ET
Los Angeles 8/30 8:40 PM ET
San Diego TV: SportsNet LA, FSN-SD
Oakland 8/30 9:05 PM ET
Milwaukee 8/30 9:05 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FSN-WI, NBC Bay Area
Washington 8/30 9:10 PM ET
Seattle TV: MLB Net, MASN 2, ROOT-NW
Full Scoreboard
Saturday, August 30Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 1Full Scoreboard
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
Seattle TV: NBC
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: FOX
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: FOX
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: CBS
New England 1:00 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:25 PM ET
Dallas TV: FOX
Carolina 4:25 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Indianapolis 8:30 PM ET
Denver TV: NBC
NY Giants 7:10 PM ET
Detroit TV: ESPN
San Diego 10:20 PM ET
Arizona TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Saturday, August 30Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard