North Texas, UNLV end postseason droughts to meet in Cotton Bowl

12/31/2013 9:08 PM

12/31/2013 9:09 PM

Heart of Dallas Bowl

UNLV vs. North Texas

11 a.m. Wednesday, Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas

TV: ESPNU

Records: UNLV 7-5, 5-3 MWC; North Texas 8-4, 6-2 C-USA

Key points: Before earning berths to today’s game, UNLV and North Texas combined for 22 years of bowl absence. North Texas hasn’t played a bowl game since losing to Southern Miss in the 2004 New Orleans Bowl. UNLV hasn’t played a postseason game since beating Arkansas in the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl. Both teams should be amped for Wednesday’s matchup. North Texas has thrived off its stingy defense and allowed just 18.1 points a game, ninth best in the nation. The Mean Green will have to slow UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring (2,522 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, four interceptions) and running back Devante Davis (1,194 rushing yards, 14 TDs). North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson has thrown for 2,640 yards and 14 touchdowns but also has 13 interceptions. Mean Green running back Brandin Byrd has run for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Tarrant ties: North Texas has several area players on its roster. Defensive back Brandon Allen played at Mansfield Summit, DB Peter Ashton is from Keller, DE Aaron Bellazin went to Everman, DB Kenny Buyers played for Hurst L.D. Bell, DT Mustafa Haboul went to Arlington Martin, TE Jarrod Lynn played for Grapevine, TE Wylie Reinhardt went to Saginaw, LB Fred Scott played for Kennedale, TE Tanner Smith went to Nolan Catholic, and OL Connor Trussell played for Arlington Martin.

— Brent Shirley

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