This is the second new bowl among the 43 scheduled in post-2021 and helped to accommodate all 83 bowl-eligible teams and 6-7 Hawai’i. The other newcomer to the bowl team in the Wasabi Fenway Park Bowl matching SMU and Virginia in historic Fenway Park at Boston, Mass., on Dec. 29.
This was the first meeting of the RedHawks and Mean Green in football. This also is the first time either team has competed in Frisco, Texas, though UNT men’s and women’s basketball teams have played in the Ryan Conference USA Basketball Championships at Frisco’s The Star at Ford Center over the last few seasons.
Frisco now joins the likes of Pasadena, Calif. (Rose Bowl presented by Capital One and both the Junior Rose and Pasadena Bowls in various years), Dallas (previous Goodyear Cotton Bowls and the SERVPRO First Responder Bowls), New Orleans (Allstate Sugar Bowl and R+L Carriers), and Orlando, Fla. (multiple bowl teams and affiliations) as cities with multiple postseason college football contests in the same city and same year. Toyota Stadium also will host the NCAA FCS championship contest on Saturday, Jan. 8, for the ninth consecutive season when North Dakota State meets Montana State in MSU’s first trek to Frisco.
This is the first time in NCAA bowl annals that a city has hosted two bowls in three days – all the other cities had 8-13 days between games in their localities. In post-2020 there was the possibility of two bowls in Frisco as the New Mexico Bowl was switched to Frisco Dec. 24 after the Dec. 23 SMU-UTSA Tropical Smoothie Café Bowl at Toyota Stadium was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.
Miami is 707-474-44 (29th-most victories by a FBS program) in its 134th season of football and 8-5 in bowl encounters. The RedHawks also have captured 22 Ohio Athletic, Buckeye and Mid-American Conferences’ titles – 15th on the list of most loop victories among FBS schools. Miami played in its first bowl outing in the 1947 Sun Bowl under head coach Sid Gillman and edged current Big 12 Conference contender (then in the Border Conference) Texas Tech 13-12.
RedHawks head coach Chuck Martin is 113-59-0 overall in his 14th season as a college head coach and 39-52-0 in his eighth season at Miami with a composite 17-13-0 mark since 2019 and two bowl bids in the last three years. He is now 1-2 in bowl matchups as a head coach at Miami. Martin has led the RedHawks to bowl eligibility in three of his last six seasons and was 2-1 overall the COVID-abbreviated 2020 campaign. The current Miami mentor was 74-7 in six seasons at Grand Valley State from 2004-09 with NCAA Division II championships in both 2005 and ’06. Martin also was a two-sport star in football and basketball at Millikin (Ill.) as an undergrad.
North Texas is 530-527-33 in its 109th season of intercollegiate football and 2-10 in bowl clashes. The Mean Green Eagles have played in six bowls in the last nine seasons. UNT also has won 25 conference football titles (13th-most by any current NCAA FBS member) in the Texas Intercollegiate, Gulf Coast, Missouri Valley, Lone Star, Southland, and Sun Belt Conferences. The Eagles made their first bowl voyage in the non-NCAA-sanctioned 1946 Houston Optimist Bowl and topped Pacific (Calif.) 14-13. UNT’s first “official” bowl skirmish was a 13-6 Salad Bowl setback against Nevada in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1947.
UNT head coach Seth Littrell is 37-38-0 in his sixth year with the Mean Green and 0-5 in bowl tilts. The former Oklahoma standout has placed five of his six North Texas squads in bowls and won the Conference USA West Division crown in 2017. Littrell also has guided his UNT squads to almost half the school’s official bowl games – five of 12 postseason contests.
Two interested observers today are Miami (Ohio) grad Courtney Morrison-Archer of the pressbox media and communications crew and ESPN Radio broadcaster Brian Estridge. Estridge, an Appalachian State grad, was play-by-play broadcaster at Miami immediately before becoming the often-awarded radio broadcaster for the TCU Horned Frogs in 1998 – he is the Frogs longest-tenured football play-by-play voice with 24 seasons and counting.
Every play and team and individual statistic in this game represented a Frisco Football Classic Bowl record.
The two 2021 bowl games in Frisco have helped the post-2021 bowl season to top last year’s 26-game attendance mark after just 11 games. In the abbreviated and COVID-19 limited post-2020 outing, the total attendance was 170,453 for an average of 6,556. Crowds were allowed at just 25 percent of stadium capacity or less at all those encounters. Through 12 bowl this year, the attendance is 215,594 for a 17,966 average prior to today’s tussle in Frisco. The top bowl attendance to date in ’21 has been 34,888 for last night’s Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl – played in Fort Worth and one of five postseason contests in the DFW area this season. The two remaining after three bowls in three days in Frisco and Fort Worth from Dec. 21-23 are the Dec. 28 SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at SMU’s Ford Stadium between Air Force and Louisville and the College Football Playoff Semifinal Goodyear Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31 between No. 1 nationally Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati.
Miami now leads all Conference USA opponents in composite series 32-16-1 with the most played rivalry against Marshall, which the RedHawks top 30-14-1 in 45 meetings. North Texas is 3-6-0 in nine meetings against five different current members of the Mid-American Conference.
C-USA teams finish the post-2021 bowl season with a 3-5 mark while the MAC is now 1-4 in bowl activity this year. The Mountain West Conference is making an early challenge for the ESPN Bowl Challenge Cup with a 4-0 mark, including MWC member San Diego State’s 38-24 win over UTSA Monday night in the Tropical Smoothie Café Bowl at Toyota Stadium.
Two of the most noted football alumni of the competing schools are QB Ben Roethlisberger of the RedHawks and NFF College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame member Mean Joe Greene.
Appropriately, two days before Christmas Miami (Red) and North Texas (Green) are decked out in holiday uniform school colors.
North Texas was seeking to win six games in succession for the first time since the 2002 season. The Eagles mounted a five-game winning skein in 2017 en route to the Conference USA West Division title and closed the year at 9-5 overall. The last similar victory skein for UNT was seven wins in a row to close the 2002 campaign with an 8-5 record and the Sun Belt Conference championship. The Mean Green ended that season with a 24-19 win over current American Athletic Conference and CFP powerhouse Cincinnati in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
The Redhawks finished the season with five wins in their last seven games and had one of the country’s toughest openers against now-No. 4 Cincinnati – in the 125th game of those nearby rivals’ storied series covering 125 games and now tied 59-59-7 after a 49-14 Bearcats win.
Miami QB Brett Gabbert is the younger brother of former Missouri All-Big 12 Conference QB and 11-year NFL veteran Blaine Gabbert. Brett Gabbert ended the afternoon with 22-of-31 passing for 228 yards and two TDs. Brett Gabbert now has six games with 220 yards passing or more this season.
Miami kicker Graham Nicholson booted one of the longest field goal in the first 13 games of post-2021 bowl season with a 48-yarder in the first quarter and added a 36-yarder in the second period. He added three PAT kicks for a nine point day.
The Redhawks registered two pass interceptions today after making seven in their first 12 games.
North Texas punter Bernardo Rodriguez had a pair of long boots of 70 and 62 yards and ended with a 54-yard average on five kicks.
More Texas-MAC-Miami ties: Former Mid-American Conference commissioner Rick Chryst once interned with and later became assistant commissioner of the Southwest Conference, chich was based in Dallas from 1915-96 before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference and then to the MAC as commissioner from 1999-2009. Longtime MAC deputy commissioner and chief operating officer since 1999 Bob Gennarelli was assistant to the commissioner of the SWC the late Fred Jacoby (who was MAC commissioner from 1973-82) from 1986-92.
One distinguished media visitor today was North Texas broadcasting alumnus and radio Voice of the Texas Longhorns Craig Way – one of the first days off he has taken off in at least 4-5 years,
Both teams have histories of nationally-known and National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame head coaches. Miami’s “Cradle of Coaches” greats have included Woody Hayes (later moved to Ohio State), Ara Parseghian (also famed at Notre Dame), John Pont, Sid Gillman, Bo Schembechler (of Michigan fame as well), and Chuck Martin (two NCAA DII titles at Grand Valley State), among others. Those who have guided the Mean Green ably since the 1913 outing have been College Hall of Famer Hayden Fry, Odus Mitchell, Darrell Dickey, Dan McCarney (who also restored Iowa State’s fortunes in the 1990s and 2000s), Darrell Dickey, and Seth Littrell (captain of Oklahoma’s 2000 Bowl Championship Series champ over Florida State). National football championship head coaches Paul Brown and Paul Dietzel also are Miami alumni, and some famed North Texas administrators in athletics are Fry, Texas Tech coaching legend and former Missouri Valley Conference commissioner DeWitt Weaver, current AD Wren Baker, Rick Villareal, retired faculty athletics representative Dr. Roy Busby, and award-winning UNT athletics publicists Bill Moyers (later White House press secretary, now 87 years young) and the late Fred Graham.
Most of the statistics’ crew at both SMU home games and for several DFW area bowl games have undergraduate or advanced degrees from North Texas but have maintained total stats’ neutrality. Two crew members have taught as adjunct or assistant professors in UNT’s famed Mayborn School of Journalism.
2021-22 Bowl Schedules, Results, Attendance – 43 Bowls (Attendance Noted, all television airtimes EST) – Results and Schedule Through Early Dec. 23, 2021
Friday, Dec. 17 Bahamas Bowl Middle Tennessee 31, Toledo 24, 13,596
Friday, Dec. 17 Cure Bowl Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41, 9,784
Saturday, Dec. 18 RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl WKU 59, Appalachian State 38, 15,429
Saturday, Dec. 18 Cricket Celebration Bowl South Carolina State 31, Jackson State 10, 48,653
Saturday, Dec. 18 New Mexico Bowl Fresno State 31, UTEP 24, 16,422
Saturday, Dec. 18 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl UAB 31, BYU 28, 26,276
Saturday, Dec. 18 Lendingtree Bowl Liberty 56, Eastern Michigan 20, 15,186
Saturday, Dec. 18 Jimmy Kimmel Los Angeles Bowl Utah State 24, Oregon State 13, 29,896
Saturday, Dec. 18 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Louisiana 36, Marshall 21, 21,642
Monday, Dec. 20 Myrtle Beach Bowl presented by TaxAct Tulsa 30, Old Dominion 17, 6,557
Tuesday, Dec. 21 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Wyoming 52, Kent State 38, TBD
Tuesday, Dec. 21 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl San Diego State 38, UTSA 24, 15,801
Wednesday, Dec. 22 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Army West Point 24, Missouri 22, 34,888
Thursday, Dec. 23 Frisco Football Classic Bowl Miami (Ohio) 27, North Texas 14, 11,721
Thursday, Dec. 23 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, 7 p.m. Florida vs. UCF, ESPN, Tampa, Fla.
Conference Records in 2021-22 Bowls (Through Early Dec. 23 - 13 Bowls)
Big Ten 0-0
Big 12 0-0
Sun Belt 2-1
Note: The 2019-20 postseason was the 27th consecutive bowl season (since 1993-94) where attendance topped one million. The record for total attendance is 1,822,387 with an average of 52,068 in 2010-11, and the attendance average mark is 65,178 for eight bowls in 1966-67 with total attendance of 521,427.
Total 2021-22 Attendance 13 Bowls: 227,315, average: 17,486
Total 2020-21 Attendance 26 Bowls: 170,453, average: 6,556 (COVID-19 attendance regulations)
Total 2019-20 Attendance 40 Bowls: 1,632,485, average: 40,812
Total 2018-19 Attendance 39 Bowls: 1,602,618 average: 41,093
Total 2017-18 Attendance 40 Bowls: 1,620,253, average: 40,506
Total 2016-17 Attendance 41 Bowls: 1,710,424, average: 41,718
Total 2015-16 Attendance 41 bowls: 1,797,798, average: 43,849
Total 2014-15 Attendance 39 bowls: 1,730,624, average: 44,372
Total 2013-14 Attendance 35 bowls: 1,714,617, average: 48,989
Total 2012-13 Attendance 35 bowls: 1,722,824, average: 49,224
Total 2011-12 Attendance 35 bowls: 1,765,224, average: 50,435
Total 2010-11 Attendance 35 bowls: 1,822,387 (record), average: 52,068