Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl Betting Preview: Army vs. North Texas

Army Black Knights vs. North Texas Mean Green (+11.5, 48.5)

Game to be played at Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, Texas

This year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 27 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas will feature a rematch between two teams that played in the regular season — Army and North Texas. The visiting Mean Green defeated Army 35-18 on Oct. 22, handing the Black Knights their first home loss of the season. How well Army can slow down running back Jeffrey Wilson, who went for 160 yards and three touchdowns in the first matchup, will be a key to this game.

The Mean Green didn’t exactly take the regular route to a bowl game, dropping four of their last five to finish under .500. North Texas is only in a bowl because there weren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill all the available spots, allowing a handful of five-win squads into the party. Selections were based on academic progress rate scores, and the Mean Green ranked second among teams not bowl eligible, giving North Texas its ninth bowl game in school history.

Army is back in a bowl game for the first time since 2010, thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. The dual-threat junior signal caller finished second on the team in rushing with 695 yards and paced the passing game with 650 yards, accounting for 11 touchdowns either on the ground or in the air. The Black Knights aren’t going to pass much in any game, but after throwing four interceptions in the loss to North Texas earlier this season, Bradshaw will need to be especially choosy about his aerial attempts in this contest.

TV: Noon ET, Dec. 27, ESPN.

LINE HISTORY: North Texas opened this game as 8.5-point underdogs and despite playing this game in its home state, they’ve been faded to +11.5. The total opened at 49 and has been bet down to 49.5. Check out the complete line history here.

MATCHUP CHART:

WEATHER REPORT: The forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies in Dallas, with temperatures in the mid 50’s for the game.

INJURY REPORT:

Army – No injuries to report.

North Texas – RB J. Wilson (probable Tuesday, knee), OL G. Gunter (questionable Tuesday, undisclosed), WR R. Bussey Jr. (quesitonable Tuesday, undisclosed), OL E. Woodworth (questionable Tuesday, undisclosed), QB M. Fine (out Tuesday, shoulder), RB W. Ivery (out Tuesday, academics).

ABOUT ARMY (7-5, 7-5 ATS, 4-8 O/U):
The constant to the Army ground attack has been sophomore running back Andy Davidson, who leads the team with 178 carries for 905 yards and 11 touchdowns. Still, in the loss to North Texas he ran the ball just 16 times for 70 yards and no scores, and averaged 78.7 yards in the team’s five losses — missing one completely with injury. The Black Knights are able to attack on the ground with a number of different players, but if Davidson isn’t having his usual success the Army offense can get slowed down.

ABOUT NORTH TEXAS (5-7, 6-5-1 ATS, 5-7 O/U):
If the Mean Green are going to repeat their win over Army from earlier this year, the defense must improve. In the five games since holding the Black Knights to 18 points — the fewest by a North Texas opponent this year — the Mean Green have allowed an average of 39.2 points while going 1-4. North Texas forced seven turnovers against Army but managed just six since, meaning the team’s leading tackler defensive back Kishawn McClain (86 tackles) and the rest of the defense need to be more opportunistic in their season finale.

TWEET BEAT:

TRENDS:

* Army is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games in December.
* North Texas is 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall.
* Under is 15-2 in Army’s last 17 neutral site games.
* Under is 8-3 in North Texas’ last 11 games following a straight up loss.

Click here to see the full list of hot and cold trends.

COVERS CONSENSUS:
Fifty-eight percent of the public is backing Army, while 55 percent of the wagers are on the Over. Check out full consensus data here.


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