Did you know the Cotton Bowl hosts a bowl game, and it's not the Cotton Bowl? It's true! The Heart of Dallas Bowl, which was originally slated to pit a Big Ten opponent against a Conference USA opponent this year, will be played at the famed stadium in Fair Park, sporting new sponsor PlainsCapital Bank.
Date and time, ET: Jan. 1, 12 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPNU
Location: Fair Park, Dallas, Texas
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: Oklahoma State 58, Purdue 14
Last year's attendance: 48,313
Last year's TV rating: 0.5
Last year's payout for each school: $1.2 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: Six teams tied with one
Team with the most all-time wins: Three teams tied with one
North Texas (8-4, 6-2 C-USA)
The Mean Green had a very fine season in 2013 -- their first in Conference-USA -- on their way to breaking a bowl drought. North Texas recorded a strong non-conference win over Ball State, and after a loss to Tulane, opened conference play with five straight wins, including games against contenders Middle Tennessee State and Rice before a loss to UTSA. The Mean Green won their final regular season game against Tulsa, ending the season at 8-4.
North Texas has an experienced quarterback in Derek Thompson, but its offensive prowess comes mostly from two explosive players at the skill positions -- running back Brandin Byrd and wide receiver/star returner Brelan Chancellor. Byrd ran for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, while Chancellor averaged 148.6 all-purpose yards per game, with six total touchdowns.
Last bowl game: 2004 New Orleans Bowl vs. Southern Miss, 31-10 loss
All-time bowl record: 1-5
Head coach's bowl record: Dan McCarney, 1-3
UNLV (7-5, 5-3 MWC)
Forget about bowl eligibility -- simply getting back to respectability has been a long time coming for the UNLV program. Prior to 2013, the Rebels were coming off three consecutive two-win seasons. Now they’ve secured a winning season for the first time since 2000, which is a heck of an accomplishment considering how bad this team has looked in recent years.
The Rebels got a strong season out of quarterback Caleb Herring, who threw for 2,522 yards and 22 touchdowns while tossing just four interceptions. That marked considerable improvement over 2012 starter Nick Sherry, who threw 17 picks. Herring had plenty of help from running back Tim Cornett, who ran for more than 1,200 yards for the second straight year.
Last bowl game: 2000 Las Vegas Bowl vs. Arkansas, 31-14 win
All-time bowl record: 3-0
Head coach's bowl record: Bobby Hauck, 0-0