College Football Betting Heart of Dallas Bowl: UNLV Rebels vs North Texas Mean Green

2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl
UNLV Rebels vs North Texas Mean Green

Cotton Bowl – Dallas, Texas
Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU
Opening Line: North Texas -6 1/2
Current Line: North Texas -6 1/2
Opening Total: 54 1/2
Current Total; 54 1/2
Opening Money Line: North Texas -240 / UNLV +200
Current Money Line: North Texas -240 / UNLV +200

UNLV is a 6.5 point underdog against North Texas in Wednesday's Heart of Dallas Bowl in the Cotton Bowl.
UNLV is a 6.5 point underdog against North Texas in Wednesday’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in the Cotton Bowl.

Both the UNLV Rebels and North Texas Mean Grean are infrequent visitors to bowl games, much less on New Year’s Day.. That will change as they meet Wednesday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in the historic Cotton Bowl. The Rebels have won all four previous meetings against the Mean Green including 38-0 in Las Vegas in 2000 the last time they played.

UNLV went 7-5 this season and 5-3 in the Mountain West West Division. They tied for third with San Jose State behind 7-1 Fresno State and 6-2 San Diego State. UNLV has only gone to three bowls in history, and this is their first since the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl against Arkansas. UNLV is 3-0 in Bowl games including 31-14 over Arkansas. The Rebels beat Toledo 30-13 in the 1984 California Bowl in Fresno, but later had to forfeit that game due to NCAA sanctions.

North Texas was 8-4 and went 6-2 in their first season in the Conference USA West division. The Mean Green tied with UTSA for second in the division behind 7-1 Rice. North Texas is 1-5 all-time in bowl games. The Mean Green are making their first Bowl trip since going to the New Orleans Bowl for 4 straight seasons from 2001-2004. The only win in those games came over Cincinnati 24-19 in 2002. North Texas lost to Southern Miss 31-10 in 2004 in New Orleans.

UNLV is coached by Bobby Hauck. The Rebels won just two games for each of Hauck’s first three seasons. Hauck signed a new contract last month. The Rebels have road losses at Minnesota 51-23, and Fresno State 38-14, along with home losses to Arizona 58-13, San Jose State 34-24, and Utah State 28-24. UNLV has home wins over Central Michigan 31-21, Western Illinois 38-7, Hawaii 39-37 and San Diego State 45-19 in their last game, along with road wins at New Mexico 56-42, ┬áNevada 27-22 and Air Force 41-21. UNLV won their last games of the season to become bowl eligible. The Rebels are 8-4 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. UNLV was a 3.5 point underdog against San Diego State and the total was 54.

UNLV is being outscored 31.5-31.2 this season. The Rebels are #93 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. UNLV is averaging 423.8 yards per game including 242.4 passing and 181.4 rushing yards. On defense, the Rebels are allowing 436.2 yards per game including 213.7 passing and 222.6 rushing yards. UNLV is #100 in total defense, #33 in pass defense and #112 in rush defense. The Rebels are +6 in turnovers with 19 takeaways. UNLV averages 32 penalty yards per game and opponents average 49. The Rebels are 82/201 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 99/219. UNLV has forced 20 sacks and allowed 21 this season. The Rebels are 40/52 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdown, and opponents are 32/39 with 25 touchdowns. UNLV has allowed six defensive / special teams touchdowns this season.

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring has completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,522 yards with 22 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 112 carries, 313 yards and 5 touchdowns. He took over for the ineffective Nick Sherry early in the season. Sherry has thrown for 337 yards with 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Running back Tim Cornett has 252 carries for 1,251 yards with 15 touchdowns, along with 28 catches for 142 yards. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence has 47 carries for 418 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 66 yards. Adonis Smith has 28 carries for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 52 yards. Running back Eugene Johnson is questionable for undisclosed reasons.

Receiver Devante Davis has 77 catches, 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns. Marcus Sullivan has 41 catches, 469 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 6 carries for 81 yards and a rushing touchdown. Maika Mataele has 35 catches, 403 yards and 3 touchdowns. Taylor Barnhill has 20 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Williams and tight end Jake Phillips each have a touchdown catch. Phillips is questionable with an ankle injury. Another tight end Max Johnson is also questionable with a leg injury. Counting the running backs, nine Rebels have at least ten catches. Three offensive linemen and six defenders (including 4 defensive backs) are listed as questionable or out.

North Texas is coached by Dan McCarney. The Mean Green have road losses at Ohio 27-21, Georgia 45-21, and Tulane 24-21, along with a home loss to UTSA 21-13. The loss to UTSA was the only loss in the last 7 games for North Texas, and it cost the Mean Green a spot in the Conference USA Championship game. UNT has home wins over Idaho 40-6, Ball State 34-27, Middle Tennessee 34-7, Rice 28-16, and UTEP 41-7 along with road wins over Louisiana Tech 28-13, Southern Miss 55-14, and Tulsa 42-10 to close out the regular season. The Mean Green are 9-3 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season. North Texas was a 4 point favorite at Tulsa and the total was 49.5.

North Texas is outscoring teams 32-18 this season. The Mean Green are #9 nationally in points allowed. UNT is averaging 411.6 yards per game on offense including 227.6 passing and 184 rushing yards. On defense, the Mean Green are allowing 355.5 yards per game including 230.4 passing and 125.1 rushing yards. North Texas is #26 nationally in total defense and #19 against the rush. The Mean Green are +10 in turnovers with 32 takeaways. UNT averages 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 44. North Texas is 93/200 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 67/189. The Mean Green have forced 34 sacks and allowed 10 this season. UNT is 33/39 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns and opponents are 20/33 with 15 touchdowns. North Texas has four punt returns for touchdowns, a pick six, a kick return and a fumble return for touchdowns. The Mean Green have allowed 3 fumble returns for touchdowns.

North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson has completed 63.9% of his passes for 2,640 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, along with 58 carries for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Running back Brandin Byrd has 182 carries for 1,023 yards with 11 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. Antoinne Jimmerson has 100 carries for 428 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns. Reggie Pegram has has 94 carries for 338 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 56 yards. He is questionable with a knee injury. Rex Rollins is out for the season with a broken collarbone.

Receiver Brelan Chancellor has 47 catches for 718 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 76 rushing yards. He also has a kick and punt return for touchdowns. Darnell Smith has 65 catches for 716 yards and 3 touchdowns. Carlos Harris has 44 catches for 519 yards and two touchdowns. Drew Miller and Darvin Kidsy will get some catches as well. Kidsy has a punt return for a touchdown, as do DB Zac Whitfield and DE Jarrian Roberts. Three defensive players are listed as questionable or out.

UNLV is 5-1 ATS after scoring more than 40 points and overall, 4-1 against teams with winning records, on fieldturf, and after a straight up win by 20 points or more, 3-1-1 after allowing less than 20 points, 8-3 after a cover, and 12-31-1 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards.

North Texas is 5-0 ATS after gaining more than 450 total yards, 6-1 overall, on fieldturf, and after allowing less than 275 total yards, 5-1 after a straight up win, 4-1 after a cover, in non-conference games, and after allowing 20 points or less, 5-2 after a straight up win by 20 points or more, 7-3 after rushing for 200 yards or more, and 10-24 against teams with winning records.

This is almost a home game for North Texas as they make the roughly 40 mile trip from their campus is Denton to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. North Texas also has a much better defense than UNLV. The Rebels have played arguably their two best games of the year against Air Force and San Diego State. If UNLV can bring that same intensity, they have a puncher’s chance of pulling off the upset. It will be difficult to score against the Mean Green defense though. Both teams force a lot of turnovers and take care of the ball on offense for the most part. I think turnovers will determine the game.

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