Army Black Knights (7-5 SU, 7-5-ATS) vs. North Texas Mean Green (5-7 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
College Football Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Tuesday December 27th, 2016. 12:00PM (EST) 2016
Where: Cotton Bowl Dallas, T.X.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARMY -10/NT +10
Over/Under Total: 49
The Army Black Knights captured a lot of attention when they snapped a 14 year losing streak to Navy at the end of the year. The upset was big enough but the Black Knights will now make their first bowl appearance since 2010 when they meet the Mean Green of North Texas inside the Cotton Bowl on Tuesday December 27th. Currently the Black Knights are listed as 10 point favorites and if they can manage to pull out the victory, it would mark their winningest season since 1996. Therefore Army will look to close out their season on another high note as they look to score just their 2nd bowl victory in the last 30 years.
At 5-7 SU, the Mean Green of North Texas are just one of 3 teams that made the postseason this year with less than 6 wins. However, this season has been far better than last year’s under first year Head Coach Seth Littrell. After winning just 1 game last year, the Mean Green improved rather significantly and this year’s bowl appearance marks just their 2nd postseason opportunity in the last 12 years. Ironically, the other bowl appearance during that time period was a similar Heart of Dallas Bowl appearance back during the 2013 season. The Mean Green pulled out a 36-14 victory over UNLV in that game so Dallas has been kind to North Texas in the past.
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Still it is going to be difficult for North Texas in this game and they have to regroup after finishing the year with losses in 4 of their last 5 games. They were even blown away by UTEP, a team that finished last in the conference, 52-24 in the season finale. Therefore there are a lot of concerns surrounding how the season ended and if this team can turn things around in Dallas. A few of the other obvious concerns is can this North Texas defense make some improvement with the extra preparation time?
The Mean Green were anything but mean on the defensive side of the ball down the stretch. North Texas was obliterated to the tune of 432 total yards and 32.1 points per game this season. Both marks ranking in the bottom 1/3 of the college landscape. To paint the picture, North Texas gave up 39.2 points per game in their last 5 games alone and they struggled significantly against the run which is very alarming for this Heart of Dallas Bowl matchup. North Texas gave up 219 yards per game on the ground which ranked 105th in the FBS. Combine that with the fact that Army averages 327 yards per game on the ground as the 2nd most dangerous rushing attack in college football and you have the recipe for a matchup nightmare.
Still the nightmare does not stop with trends or mere matchup concerns, North Texas is also still unsure who will lead the team at the quarterback position in this game. The team is hoping that Mason Fine will be available but he is nursing a shoulder injury meaning Alec Morris could get the nod. Neither quarterback has been necessarily good this year. In fact, both players stats are pretty close in resemblance with nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes. With no other true playmakers to turn to, North Texas will get to lineup against the nation’s 4th best defense that has allowed just 288 yards per game and hope to outscore their opponent because we know that Army is going to move the football. Again the matchup is just disastrous for North Texas and I think the result will show on December 27th!
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Army -10
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