Heart of Dallas Bowl Pick
The Heart of Dallas Bowl features two teams that aren’t regulars in the postseason. This is just Army’s second bowl appearance since 1996 and North Texas’s second since 2004. North Texas actually played in this bowl two years ago and beat UNLV convincingly. That’s not swaying the bookmakers, though, as the Black Knights were early -10 points favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Dallas.
North Texas is just an hOur from this stadium, but that doesn’t mean much when the team finished 3-5 in C-USA play and 5-7 overall (made bowl due to Academic Progress Rate). Funny enough, the Mean Green’s best win of the season came against this Army team, which makes this spread even more interesting. They won that Game 35-18 on the road, but lost Four of their final five contests after that. Still, this team finished with just one win a year ago, so this is quite a leap, and the same can be said for Army.
The Black Knights won their final two Games, including upsetting Navy in the final week of the regular season. They have plenty of experience against the C-USA and it’s not just North Texas. They dismantled both Rice and UTEP early in the year and the main reason UNT is the underdog is because they were destroyed by that same Four-win UTEP team in the regular season finale. Army beat them 66-14, and UTEP beat UNT 52-24.
When these teams met earlier this season, it was a weird Game. North Texas got out to a quick lead due to a pick-six and never looked back. Army ran for 302 yards, but it didn’t matter because Ahmad Bradshaw threw Four interceptions while going just 7-of-21 for 101 yards. Obviously, that won’t happen again, which is part of the reason Army is favored.
While North Texas will be motivated behind head coach Seth Littrell, they have some injuries worth monitoring. Freshman quarterback Mason Fine didn’t play in the final two Games due to a shoulder injury with Alec Morris doing fine as backup. Fine should be ready to go, but that may not be as big of deal as at running back with Jeffrey Wilson, who ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting. Wilson was dealing with a knee injury late in the year and returned for the finale, but didn’t look like himself.
Army has one of the better rated defenses in the country, but that’s mostly due to playing weak offenses. And again, North Texas had some success against them in the first meeting. But the Mean Green are much worse on the defensive end and that was seen in the finale against UTEP. And as long as Army doesn’t toss Four picks again, expect the Knights to be around 30 or even 40 points. North Texas hasn’t been able to stop anyone on the ground this year and that’s a huge problem against the triple-option.
As long as Army doesn’t fall behind early, Bradshaw won’t be asked to throw much. From there, the Knights will use any number of backs and could easily amass 300 or 400-plus rushing yards. North Texas gave up 384 rushing yards to UTEP last Game.
So while North Texas won the first Game, the blueprint is there for Army to run away with this one. It’ll be up to Fine and Wilson to move the ball for the Mean Green.
The Black Knights are 4-1 ATS in their last five neutral-site Games and 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 vs. C-USA teams. The Mean Green are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-Conference Games, but 1-4 ATS in their last five overall. Both teams have multiple trends that point to the under.
Our Pick – Note that North Texas QB Mason Fine is listed as questionable as of this writing on 12/23. Either way, many are on Army to gain a little revenge for their earlier loss to North Texas and in fact, Our model agrees with that scenario.
However, we’re going to side with North Texas to keep this one within the spot. Thinking being, if they can win outright once, they can certainly stay within 10 the 2nd time around. North Texas +10