A Look Back At NT Football History: 2002 New Orleans Bowl
The Mean Green Takes Down Cincinnati For First Bowl Win In 56 Years
In honor of the 1,000th game in Mean Green football history Saturday against Florida Atlantic, we are highlighting five of the top moments, in no particular order, in the team's history.
North Texas vs. Cincinnati
2002 Wyndham New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans, La.
December 17, 2002
DENTON - After a 42-year drought, the North Texas Mean Green finally made it back to a bowl game only to be crushed by a veteran Colorado State team in the 2001 New Orleans Bowl.
Winless in its last three bowl appearances heading into the 2002 season, fifth-year head coach Darrell Dickey went into the year seeking a second straight Sun Belt Conference Championship.
Taking on the No. 3 Texas Longhorns, SEC opponent Alabama and the Pac-10's Arizona, the Mean Green began conference play with a 1-5 record and played its first two conference games on the road.
The Mean Green went a perfect 6-0 in the Sun Belt to cap off a 7-5 regular season, outscoring opponents by 100 points in the six contests and earning a bid to its second straight New Orleans Bowl.
North Texas would be facing the 7-6 Conference USA champion Cincinnati Bearcats.
Trailing 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, NT All-Century Football Team member Patrcik Cobbs gave the Mean Green a lead it wouldn't relinquish with a 27-yard touchdown run.
After that, cornerback Jeremy Pearl intercepted a Bearcats' pass and returned the ball 20 yards to make it 17-7 in favor of the Mean Green.
The pick was one of five on the game for the highly touted North Texas defense, which was ranked 13th best in the country that season. The defense was led by All-Century Team members, defensive back Jonas Buckles, linebacker Cody Spencer, who also had an interception in the game, and NT Hall of Fame defensive lineman Brandon Kennedy.
Mean Green running back Kevin Galbreath put the game away with a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and was subsequently named the game's MVP for his 28-rush, 130-yard effort over Cincinnati.
NT quarterback Andrew Smith completed nine passes for 126 yards in the game.
The win marked the first bowl victory for the Mean Green in 56 years as Darrell Dickey set the stage for two more conference championships and two more New Orleans Bowl appearances in the next two years.
The win would be the last bowl victory until North Texas' win in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
One member of the 2002 bowl championship team, linebacker Chris Hurd, returns to Denton for the 1,000th game Saturday as FAU's Special Teams Coordinator.
Check back every day for the next installment for five of the top moments in North Texas football history.
Previous Games: 1975 vs. Tennessee, 1977 vs. SMU
Next game: 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl