UNLV football:

Blog: Rebels lose 1st bowl game in school history, 36-14 to North Texas

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV wide receiver Devante Davis walks off the field as North Texas fans celebrate after the Heart of Dallas Bowl Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. North Texas won 36-14.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 | 12:38 p.m.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring walks off the field after failing to convert on fourth down late in the fourth quarter against North Texas during the Heart of Dallas Bowl Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. North Texas won 36-14. Launch slideshow »

North Texas 36, UNLV 14

Game over

UNLV played well for a lot of the game, but it didn't have enough to pull out one more victory and finishes the season 7-6 following a 36-14 loss to North Texas today in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium.

The Rebels marched 95 yards for a touchdown on their opening drive of the game, and then couldn't get anything going the rest of the game. It was tied 7-7 at halftime, and the Mean Green eventually wore down UNLV's defense with third-down conversions.

UNT receiver Brelan Chancellor rushed for two touchdowns and quarterback Derek Thompson tossed two more. UNLV's Devante Davis caught 10 passes for 96 yards, setting a new Rebels bowl record.

This is UNLV's first bowl loss. The Rebels had been 3-0 coming into the game, with the most recent victory coming in 2000.

Check lasvegassun.com later today for a full report from the Rebels' bowl game and stay tuned to the blog for updates from the Rebels' basketball game at Fresno State.

 

Heart of Dallas Bowl Pep Rally

UNLV cheerleaders perform during a pep rally for the Heart of Dallas Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 at the state fairgrounds near the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Launch slideshow »

Heart of Dallas Bowl: News Conference

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck listens to a question during a news conference for the Heart of Dallas Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Launch slideshow »

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Team Photo

The UNLV football team has their team photo taken for the Heart of Dallas Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Launch slideshow »

DALLAS — The wait is finally over. After more than a month since its last game and 13 years since its last trip to the postseason, UNLV football is about to kick off against North Texas this morning in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The two teams have had plenty of time to get familiar with each other as they prepared for today’s game, which starts at 9 a.m. Las Vegas time and will air on ESPNU. However, they only met this week when both teams arrived in Dallas on Saturday.

The head coaches, though, go back several years. Bobby Hauck and Dan McCarney have met several times in various circumstances. Hauck was an assistant at Colorado from 1995-98, which was also the start of McCarney’s 11-year run leading Big 12 foe Iowa State.

Sitting up on the same stage on Tuesday, it was apparent there was genuine affection between the two. It’s easy to imagine them going out together after the game to close down a bar. But for those three hours in the historic Cotton Bowl the friendship gets set aside.

“We’re going to be trying to beat each other’s butts,” McCarney said.

On paper, the matchup appears to be a version of the unstoppable force vs. an immovable object. UNLV’s offense said numerous program records behind the efforts of quarterback Caleb Herring, running back Tim Cornett, receiver Devante Davis and the rest of the group.

But how rusty will that unit be after a month off from games? That’s an important question because any momentum gained by North Texas’ defense early on could go a long ways. That group, led by all-conference linebacker Zach Orr, gives up the ninth fewest points per game in the country (18.1 points per game).

The Mean Green also rank first in red-zone defense, second in fourth-quarter points and fourth in takeaways with 32. Turnovers could end up being the deciding factor either way, because UNLV is one of the least penalized teams in the country. As long as the Rebels protect the ball it’s likely they’ll be in the game going into the fourth quarter.

No matter the outcome today, this was a successful UNLV season by all measures. The Rebels won three road games after losing 23 in a row. One of those was against UNR, ending an eight-year losing streak and earning the Fremont Cannon a new coat of paint. And with a bowl berth possibly on the line in the regular season finale, UNLV bludgeoned San Diego State 45-19.

Even a blowout loss to North Texas wouldn’t taint the step forward the Rebels took this year, but they’d feel a whole lot better with a victory.

Bern’s prediction: I really wanted to pick some type of symbolic score — say, 20-14 — but with teams this high-scoring I simply couldn’t do it. However, if someone does win 20-14 just know that I’ll claim to have called it.

Anyways, I think the winner is going to score at least 28, and as the score gets higher it tilts more and more in the Rebels’ favor. It won’t be easy against this UNT defense but as long as UNLV protects the ball I think Texans Davis and Cornett will have solid games.

It doesn’t really matter if they win today or not, but I’ll predict the Rebels start 2014 on a positive note. UNLV 29, North Texas 22

Season: ATS 8-4, O/U 7-4-1

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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