Dec. 8, 2013 - UPDATED 9:20 PM
DENTON, Texas - In the centennial year of North Texas football, the Mean Green today accepted an invitation to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's Day.
"It is an honor to be invited to participate in the Heart of Dallas Bowl," North Texas head coach Dan McCarney said. "We are tremendously excited to be involved in a New Year's Day bowl game at a venue with all the history of the Cotton Bowl Stadium. This will make it easy for all of our fans to come and watch this team make history while going for its ninth win of the season."
The Heart of Dallas Bowl will pit North Texas against UNLV on Jan. 1, 2014, at the 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl in historic Fair Park, the 277-acre landmark complex of art-deco architecture that hosts the State Fair of Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Tickets for the Heart of Dallas Bowl are on sale now online. To purchase tickets, click here. Tickets are $75.
The 2013 season marked the 100th anniversary of the start of North Texas football as well as the first year for the Mean Green in Conference USA. In posting an 8-4 record and a 6-2 mark in C-USA play, North Texas earned its eighth bowl appearance and the 21st bowl berth in the career of Mean Green head coach Dan McCarney, who in only his third year in Denton resurrected a program that went 13-58 in the six years before his arrival.
"This a validation for all the hard work put in by this team and the leadership of this senior class," McCarney said. "I can't give enough thanks to Brant Ringler from the Heart of Dallas Bowl and Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky for the confidence they have shown in this team and the effort they have put in during this process."
This will be the Mean Green's second appearance in a New Year's Day bowl. North Texas played on January 1 in 1948 in the Salad Bowl, which was a precursor to the Fiesta Bowl, in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl will also be the Mean Green's fourth game at the Cotton Bowl, but the first in a post-season game. North Texas first played at the Cotton Bowl in 1971 against Brigham Young, and played there twice in 1981, against Oklahoma State and UTA. North Texas has never won at the Cotton Bowl.
North Texas is the only school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to earn a bowl invitation this year. TCU (4-8) and SMU (5-7) had school-record streaks of eight- and four-straight bowl appearances, respectively, come to an end this year while the ascendant Mean Green earned its first bowl berth since 2004, when North Texas concluded a four-year run at the New Orleans Bowl. This year's bowl invitation ends a nine-year bowl drought for North Texas, which was the sixth longest in the nation.
The Mean Green's opponent in the Heart of Dallas Bowl will be UNLV from the Mountain West Conference. UNLV finished the year 7-5 and became bowl eligible by winning their final two games, against Air Force and San Diego State. The Rebels feature a balanced offense with a 2,500-yard passer and a 1,200-yard rusher.
This will be the Mean Green's fifth meeting with UNLV and first since 2000. The Rebels won all four previous games against North Texas.