North Texas will aim to complete a remarkable season-ending run on a high note where it started — the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The Mean Green received a bid to the Frisco Football Classic on Sunday. UNT will take on Miami (Ohio) at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23 at Toyota Stadium.
UNT won five straight games to rally from a 1-6 start and earn its sixth bowl berth since the 2013 season. The Frisco Football Classic was a late add to the bowl schedule that allowed all the teams that are bowl-eligible to play in the postseason.
“This is a great reward for our players and all they accomplished this season,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said in the school’s official announcement that it had accepted a berth in the bowl. “We are excited for this chance nearby in Frisco to compete in front of our fans again, especially against a talented Miami team. We look forward to getting to work.”
The game will mark UNT’s return to the DFW area after playing its last three bowl games out of state.
The Mean Green played in the Myrtle Beach Bowl last season, the New Mexico Bowl in 2018 and the New Orleans Bowl in 2017.
UNT ended an eight-year bowl drought when it played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the end of the 2013 season. The Mean Green appeared in the game again in 2016, their first year under Littrell.
UNT has long been an attractive team for bowls located in Dallas-Fort Worth due to its proximity. The school has more than 40,000 students and a sizable local alumni base that has a history of turning out in force when UNT plays in a local bowl game.
UNT beat UNLV 36-14 in its first Heart of Dallas Bowl appearance in front of a crowd of 38,380 that was made up largely of Mean Green fans. The Mean Green’s loss to Army in the 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl drew 39,117.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our fans to show the country what makes the Mean Green family special with a big turnout for a game in our backyard, and a chance for our program to continue building on its strong finish to the season,” UNT athletic director Wren Baker said.
UNT’s win over UNLV was just one of three bowl wins in program history.
UNT will have its fifth shot to post bowl win No. 4 under Littrell, who has made the Mean Green a postseason regular.
The longtime college offensive coordinator raised eyebrows when he first arrived at UNT ahead of the 2016 season and said his goal was for the Mean Green to win their bowl game that season.
That goal seemed like a long shot at best considering UNT was coming off a 1-11 campaign. UNT nearly got it done before falling to Army in overtime.
UNT was handed a series of tough matchups against programs at their pinnacle since then. The Mean Green lost to a Troy team that finished 11-2 in 2017, a nationally ranked Utah State team in 2018 and an Appalachian State team that finished just outside of the final AP Top 25 poll last year.
UNT will get another shot against Miami.
The RedHawks also finished 6-6 in the regular season. Miami fell to Kent State 48-47 in overtime with the MAC East Division title and a spot in the conference title game on the line.
UNT appeared ready for its next bowl opportunity when it caught fire late in the season. The Mean Green knew they needed to win five straight games to become bowl eligible after falling to Liberty on Oct. 23 and regrouped during a series of meetings and tough practices.
Those efforts paid off when UNT ripped off wins over Rice, Southern Miss, UTEP and Florida International to get to 5-6 heading into its regular-season finale against UTSA.
The Mean Green stunned the Roadrunners, who were ranked No. 15 in the AP Top 25 poll, 45-23 for the sixth win they needed to return to the postseason.
UNT’s win over UTSA was just the second over a ranked team in program history and looks even better now after the Roadrunners knocked off Western Kentucky in the Conference USA title game. UTSA finished the regular season 12-1 and jumped back into the poll at No. 24 this week.
UNT will look to a milestone win when it takes on Miami.
“It’s a great feeling,” defensive end Grayson Murphy said following UNT’s in over UTSA. “We were dancing around in the locker room. I am glad we sent these seniors out with a win. Now we have another chance in a bowl game.”