North Texas officials have made what we just reported a couple of minutes ago official. The Mean Green are headed to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
UNT will face Army on Dec. 27 in an 11 a.m. game at the Cotton Bowl.
The Mean Green’s last bowl appearance came in the Heart of Dallas Bowl after the 2013 season, when UNT knocked off UNLV.
The Mean Green broke through for their first appearance in a bowl since 2004 that season behind Dan McCarney and a veteran cast of players led by linebacker Zach Orr, wide receiver Brelan Chancellor and quarterback Derek Thompson, who went on to be named the game’s MVP.
UNT is back in the postseason for the first time since that win behind first-year coach Seth Littrell.
The former North Carolina assistant took over a program that finished 1-11 and led it to a breakthrough 5-7 finish.
“We are excited to announce that North Texas and Army will be playing in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl this year,” Ringler said. “Congratulations to both the Mean Green and Golden Knights for their outstanding seasons. This promises to be a thrilling matchup at historic Cotton Bowl Stadium. Fans from both programs are in for a special time in Dallas.”
UNT beat Army 35-18 at West Point for one of its biggest wins of the season on Oct. 22.
The Mean Green lost their next four games, but bounced back to beat Southern Miss 29-23 at Apogee Stadium on Nov. 19. UNT’s fifth win ended up sending the Mean Green to just its second bowl game since 2004.
UNT had a chance to become bowl-eligible with six wins by beating UTEP in its regular season finale, but fell 52-24.
The Mean Green still made the postseason, thanks to its score on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate report.
Teams that finished with five wins were awarded bowl berths on the basis of their score on the APR report that measures a school’s performance in terms of keeping its players in school and eligible.
Littrell talked about what winning six games and playing in a bowl would mean for the program heading into UNT’s regular season finale against UTEP.
“It would mean a lot to win six games,” Littrell said. “We had a new head coach and a new staff that developed relationships with these young men. It would show that we are on the right track to do some very special things.
“We still have a lot of work to do. Where are validates the track we are on and what we believe in. That is important.”
UNT didn’t end up winning six games in the regular season, but will have a second chance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, where the Mean Green picked up one of the significant wins in program history.