Heart of Dallas Bowl - Army Black Knights vs North Texas Mean Green

Army Black Knights players running into the field

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 8:37 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 8:37 PM GMT

 

We split a pair of picks on Tuesday’s big slate, but with the holiday week, there are still a ton of great games to make some NBA Picks on Wednesday. I have found a couple that has some fine value and I’m ready to rage cash.

Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas, TX

Army vs. North Texas (ESPN, 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST). After watching Army (7-5 SU/ATS) beat then #25 Navy for the first time in 14 years, bettors continued to back the Black Knights against North Texas (5-7 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) in this Heart of Dallas Bowl which will be held at the Cotton Bowl stadium (Grass), driving the point spread—which opened at 9—up to as high as 10½ at some offshore sportsbooks a week from kickoff. And it seems both sharps and the public like Army here and that this number could approach 12, meaning if you want to back the Mean Green, wait and see where the line goes. The money line odds on the Black Knights have gone up 55 cents to -400 in this Heart of Dallas Bowl matchup with underdog North Texas now at +320.

When these two teams met in the regular season—a real rarity a Bowl committees almost always try to choose two schools who haven’t played already—North Texas won 35-18 at Michie Stadium in West Point on Oct. 22 as Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 160 yards and 3 TDs in the rain as the Mean Green won outright as 17½-point underdogs.

 

Army Strengths and Weaknesses

Army runs the triple-option offense and is led by QB Ahmad Bradshaw (4 TDs, 8 INTs) and the Black Knights (30.2 ppg) are great at picking up around 6 yards a run with Bradshaw, Andy Davidson (818 yards, 9 TDs) and others being used like machinelike workhorses. When Army does reluctantly pass the football—it’s ranked #132nd of 132 FBS schools in this category (79.9 ypg)—it’s 6-4 WR Edgar Allan Poe (15 receptions, 321 yards, 3 TDs) who is the main target, but if the Black Knights get behind, as they did in the first meeting, it usually spells trouble.

But Andrew King (93 tackles) and the Army Defense are the strength of this team and should be motivated by the Bowl game appearance itself, fueled by Confidence gleaned from the Win over rival Navy as well as the Emotions derived from the untimely death of DB Brandon Jackson in an automobile accident. The Black Knights will definitely want to cap off this glorious season with a victory in Jackson’s memory.

Only #1 Michigan and #2 Alabama have allowed less total yards than Army has (3,379 yards, #3 FBS, 18.9 ppg), but it’s important to remember the Independent Black Knights (6-2 ATS L8 Neutral Site) have played Rice, UTEP, Wake Forest, Morgan State, Buffalo, Lafayette and this North Texas team—which we must admit at 5-7 SU doesn’t really deserve to be in a Bowl game.

 

North Texas Strengths and Weaknesses

First-year Head Coach Seth Littrell and North Texas have upgraded usual starting QB Mason Fine (Shoulder) to Probable (12/9), but the Mean Green signal caller “may not start” here meaning Alec Morris (6 TDs, 6 INTs) could get the start with Fine likely coming in at some point—maybe like Superman to try to save the day? Jeffrey Wilson (855 yards, 13 TDs) had a field day against Army at West Point but don’t expect the Black Knights to let the junior run wild in this spot. North Texas will be the first team to play in this Bowl game twice—it beat UNLV in 2013—and will need Nate Brooks (4 Interceptions) and its Defense (32.2 ppg, #93) to play above its collective heads.

Littrell gets major credit for turning a 1-11 SU program into an improved team, but this will be a stiff test, facing a better football team with a winning Record that does deserve a Bowl appearance. Expect much passing from the Mean Green with both QBs slinging and WR Thaddeous Thompson (40 receptions, 524 yards, 2 TDs) the main target.

 

Final Thoughts

Since 2011, Conference USA has the best SU Bowl Record (18-8) and C-USA teams are actually favorites in five of their seven Bowl games this year. The team leading at halftime has won the Heart of Dallas Bowl 5 times while the team leading after 3 Quarters has won all 6. So who should be leading at those points? Probably driven Army. But the one team who rallied to win the 4th quarter in this Bowl game? It was North Texas.

When these two met in the Regular Season, Army had more First Downs (24-15), much more Time of Possession (37:26-22:34), more 1st downs (24-15) and more total yards (403-320) than North Texas but was still upset by 17 points due to 7 Turnovers. The Total may be worth a look Under with the Under winning 10-4 L14 Army games, especially with Army’s Defense so good and its’ Offense so darn Rush-oriented. But waiting to get at least 11 and 12 or maybe even 13 points late with the Pass-possible Mean Green Underdogs still seems like the best Rx.

 

Predicted Final Score: Army 26 North Texas 22Free NCAAF Pick: North Texas +10½Best Line Offered: at BetDSI

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