2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl schedule and coverage: Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
The last four Heart of Dallas bowls have been decided by an average of 22 points. Hopefully this year’s game is a little closer.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl is one of the newer postseason games on the slate. It was created in 2011 in the hopes of hosting a Big 12 vs. Big Ten matchup each December, though that was only the case in the inaugural season when teams from those conferences have struggled to win enough games in order to qualify. If recent history is any indication, this year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl will be a blowout: in four games, the winning team has won by an average of 22 points. Hopefully this one, featuring Illinois and Louisiana Tech, will be a little closer.
Here is all you need to know about this year’s contest in Dallas.
Date and time, ET: Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, 1 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Dallas, Texas
Stadium: Cotton Bowl; 92,000
Last year’s score: North Texas 36, UNLV 14
Last year’s attendance: 38,380
Last year’s TV rating: 1.1
Last year’s payout for each school: $1.2 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: Eight teams have made the game one time.
Team with the most all-time wins: Houston, North Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, one win.
Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 3-5)
Illinois has somehow emerged from the depths under third-year head coach Tim Beckman, and as a result the usually embattled coach just might get himself a contract extension soon. The Illini clawed their way to six wins on the back of a relatively easy schedule, plus a surprisingly legit win against Minnesota in late October.
Beckman has overhauled the offense around Oklahoma State transfer quarterback Wes Lunt, who was one of the Big Ten’s most productive and efficient quarterbacks when healthy. Freshman wide receiver Mikey Dudek has quickly become Lunt’s favorite target.
Last bowl game: 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl vs. UCLA, 20-14 win
All-time bowl record: 8-9
Head coach’s bowl record:Tim Beckman, 1-1
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-5, 7-1 C-USA)
After a disastrous tenure at South Florida, Louisiana Tech’s 2013 hiring of Skip Holtz received … mixed reviews. A 4-8 debut season didn’t do much to assuage critics, but Louisiana Tech had a good 2014.
The Bulldogs lost disappointing games to FCS Northwestern State and Old Dominion, but got demonstrably better as the season went on and beat bowl teams UTEP and Rice before losing to Marshall, 26-23, in the Conference USA Championship.
Last bowl game: 2011 Poinsettia Bowl vs. TCU, 31-24 loss
All-time bowl record: 2-3-1
Head coach’s bowl record: Skip Holtz, 2-3