North Texas carries a five-game winning streak and a near-homefield advantage with it against Miami (Ohio) in the inaugural Frisco Football Classic on Thursday in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas.
The bowl game is a new one, created after the regular season to help accommodate a game forevery eligible team. Both the Mean Green and the RedHawks finished their regular campaigns with 6-6 records, with North Texas dominating previously unbeaten No. 15 UTSA at home on Nov. 27 to become bowl-eligible.
North Texas and Miami will be meeting for the first time. The Mean Green rely on a punishing rushing attack and defense while the RedHawks have been at their best via the pass.
The Mean Green's defense has been the difference in the winning streak, holding opponents to an average of just 17 points per game. In the first seven games of the year, in which North Texas went 1-6 and lost six straight, the defense gave up an average of 35 points per game.
After the slow start, North Texas beat Rice, Southern Miss, UTEP, Florida International and UTSA in consecutive weeks.
"It's been great work," North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. "The kids understand that we have a great opportunity to play in Frisco against a good opponent in Miami (Ohio) and try to win a bowl game. That is something no one in this group has done, hoist a championship trophy over their heads and finish it off the right way."
North Texas garnered a bowl-game invitation for the fifth time in six seasons under Littrell. This will be the Mean Green's 13th bowl appearance all-time. North Texas will be looking for its fourth win in a bowl and first since 2013.
Miami went 5-3 in Mid-American Conference play and was a failed two-point conversion shy in a 48-47 loss at Kent State from earning a spot in the league championship game.
"Every time these kids have had a challenge, they've never backed down," Miami coach Chuck Martin said. "Even more importantly with this group is that it's continued to build and get better every time they've gotten knocked down. They've never flinched, whether it be a game or whether it be a loss -- I like the resiliency of these kids."
The RedHawks are playing in the postseason for the 13th time in program history. Miami has been bowl-eligible four of the past six seasons; from 2006-15, it finished the regular season at least .500 only once.
Miami's offense has found its stride, especially through the air, in the past four games. Quarterback Brett Gabbert spearheaded an offensive attack that racked up an average of 500 yards and 39.8 points per game in the month of November when he passed for 1,475 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Over that stretch, the RedHawks went 2-2, with the two defeats (both on the road) coming by a combined three points.
--Field Level Media