Army and North Texas in rare bowl rematch at Heart of Dallas
DALLAS (AP) Army had already accepted an invitation to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl before its biggest victory.
Now after beating archrival Navy for the first time in 15 years, the Black Knights (7-5) have a chance to avenge a turnover-plagued loss from two months ago. Army plays North Texas on Tuesday in the only bowl game that is a regular-season rematch.
''We didn't play near as well as we wanted to the first time we came out. I think we did some good things, but we just shot ourselves in the foot so many times and we left (with) a sour taste in our mouth,'' Army linebacker Jeremy Timpf said. ''You don't get very many second chances and we definitely got one now.''
The Black Knights are in their first bowl since 2010. The last bowl for North Texas (5-7) was a win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl three years ago, the Mean Green's only other bowl appearance since 2004.
North Texas has lost four of its five games since winning 35-18 at West Point on Oct. 22, when Army had seven turnovers (three lost fumbles, four interceptions).
Even after giving up an average of 43 points in those losses, the Mean Green got to play in another game based on their high NCAA Academic Progress Rate score because there weren't enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all the spots.
''This bowl game was key to us,'' first-year North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. ''Not only to let our seniors go out the right way ... but for the simple fact that we get extra practices to get better and build momentum to go into spring ball.''
Some other things to know about the game played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium, about 45 miles from the North Texas campus:
READY TO RUN
North Texas RB Jeffrey Wilson, whose 160 yards rushing in October were the most against Army this season, had only one carry the last three games while nursing a knee injury. But the extended break since the regular season has helped. ''I don't know if he's 100 percent, but he's been running the ball well and he's back at full go,'' Littrell said.
Army coach Jeff Monken described his players this way: ''They are very unselfish and play as a team. We don't have any guys on our team that are all-star, just knock-your-socks-off, great players. We've just got a bunch of good, tough, hard-nosed guys that try real hard and play well together.''
Alec Morris threw only one pass while at Alabama for two national titles in four years. The graduate transfer, who was a Texas prep standout, ends his collegiate career starting at QB for North Texas in a bowl. Freshman starter Mason Fine missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. ''Alec has probably had his two best weeks of practice that he has had since he's been here,'' Littrell said. ''Mason's healthy. He's fine. He's missed a lot of reps.''
Army's appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl gives the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex a rare trifecta. All three service academies will have played in the area this season. Navy won its regular-season finale at SMU in Dallas last month and then lost to Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl on Friday in Fort Worth. Air Force lost to New Mexico in Cotton Bowl Stadium in mid-October.
RETURN OF THE BLACK KNIGHTS
With at least six wins in 2017, Army is guaranteed another bowl in North Texas. They have a conditional agreement already to play in the next Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. Army played in that game in 2010, its only other bowl since 1996.
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