6:59 — UNT has iced this game. Darnell Smith caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Derek Thompson to put the Mean Green up 28-7. I have to head to the field now.
14:56 — UNT might have put this game away. Brelan Chancellor scores from 3 yards out. The Mean Green leads 21-7.
4:52 — UNLV went three-and-out on its last possession. UNT will have the ball at its 26-yard line with a chance to extend its lead.
6:07 — There is a Mike Canales favorite. Drew Miller sneaks into the opposite corner of the end zone on the throwback pass off the rollout. UNT is up 14-7. Considering UNT allows an average of 6.5 points a game in the second half, the Mean Green is in a pretty good spot.
8:36 — Huge play by Marcus Smith — 27-yard catch for the first down.
9:14 — This might be one of those games where the first team to score next wins. UNT is facing a third-and-7 situation at the UNLV 46-yard line. UNT is 2-for-7 on third down today.
11:36 — UNT picked up a sack on UNLV’s last possession. UNLV got off another terrible punt. UNT has the ball at its 40.
Halftime — We are all tied up at 7-7 at halftime after UNLV’s field goal attempt came up way short. UNT blocked what looked like it was going to be the field goal try. The ball was rolling toward the end zone and would have been returned for a touchdown, but the Mean Green called a timeout before the play.
UNT has missed a ton of opportunities in the first half. James Jones dropped what looked like it could have been an interception returned for a touchdown and Will Wright dropped another potential interception.
UNLV has a 192-142 edge in total yards in a defensively oriented game. The good news for UNT is that it has been great defensively in the second half this season, allowing an average of 6.5 points a game after halftime.
:09 — UNLV has it at the 35 and needs a quick play to get in field goal range.
:24 — UNT went three-and-out, so did UNLV. The Rebels drew an off-sides penalty on fourth down.
2:55 — UNLV’s punter did just what Blake Macek did, send it out of the end zone. UNT starts at its 20.
3:06 — Here is a big play coming up here for both teams. It’s third-and-10 UNLV from the UNT 38. UNLV nearly picked up the first down on second down, but Lairamie Lee made a good play on a pass a Maika Mataele nearly pulled in over the middle of the field.
6:33 — Derek Thompson overthrew Carlos Harris on third down. UNLV will have the ball at its 11. Keith Whitely is having a hard time in the return came. He nearly coughed up another one on the punt.
6:57 — Antoinne Jimmerson was down for a minute after losing a yard, but is back up and running off the field.
7:14 — UNLV didn’t go anywhere on its last possession. James Jones picked up a sack on a corner blitz. UNT has the ball back at its 35-yard line. UNT also got just enough pressure on another play to prevent UNLV from getting off a screen that looked as if it might be open for a good chunk of yards.
9:09 — Blake Macek didn’t hit that one right. It sailed out of the end zone for a touchback. UNLV will have the ball at its 20.
9:18 — Here’s an interesting call for UNT. The Mean Green is at the UNLV 39-yard line. It’s fourth-and-4. UNT is going to punt it.
11:33 — DT is back in and UNT is driving at the UNLV 45.
12:28 — UNT held UNLV on its last possession and has the ball back at its 29-yard line. Will Wright came up with a key play on the drive, pulling down Caleb Herring for an 8-yard loss.
1:47 — Antoinne Jimmerson punched the ball in from the 1-yard line. We are all tied up at 7-7. The big question now is if DT is done for the day.
2:27 — Mason Y’Barbo recovered a fumble by Carlos Harris at the 3. More importantly DT limped off with a leg injury. It looks like Andrew McNulty is coming in. And it is Mini Mac.
5:52 — UNT went three-and-out on its last possession, but caught a break when UNLV muffed the punt. Zed Evans fell on the ball. That was a huge momentum swing for UNT.
7:31 — UNLV drove straight down the field and scored on on a Caleb Herring pass to Macus Sullivan from 9 yards out. That’s a rare red zone miss for UNT’s defense and a tough start for UNT. That illegal block call on Kirby was huge.
10:31 — UNT was driving, but picked up a killer chop block call on Kaydon Kirby. UNT punted the ball away.
14:58 — UNLV bounced the kickoff down the field and into the end zone to keep the ball away from Brelan Chancellor.
10:58 — UNLV has won the toss and deferred to the second half. UNT will get the ball first.
10:55 — UNT is coming on to the field. Needless to say, UNT’s players are pretty jacked up. Players being ready to go and excited to play is such a big part of the way bowl games go. It could bode well for UNT.
10:45 — The stands are filling in with UNT fans. There was some concern about turnout. That didn’t turn out to be an issue. The UNT side of the stadium is pretty full. UNT is in black. I like the look. I never understood the old school fans who don’t appreciate it.
Another key aspect of this game to watch is the matchup between UNT’s defensive front and a really big UNLV offensive front. The Rebels will be one of the bigger teams UNT has faced this season, averaging just short of 300 pounds a player.
UNT is getting ready to kick off the Heart of Dallas Bowl here at the Cotton Bowl.
We have made it down to Dallas — I brought Ben Baby with me this time around — to cover the game and do a little live blogging along the way. A ton of UNT fans made the trip and are filling in one side of the stadium.
Rick Gosselin, out friend from the DMN, wrote a nice column on Dan McCarney’s comeback from health issues to lead UNT to a bowl game.
As far as the matchup goes, it comes down to how UNT’s defense fares against a pretty good UNLV offense that features a ton of talent. Running back Tim Cornett and wide receiver Devante Davis are the real deal.
Check back for more throughout the day.