NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- While Iowa will go more than six weeks before making its bowl appearance, Cincinnati will have to wait less than two weeks.
Just 11 days after gaining a share of their first conference title in 38 years, the Bearcats kick off a 28-game bowl bonanza against North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.
Cincinnati (7-6) secured its school-record third straight bowl appearance by defeating East Carolina, 42-26, in its regular season finale. The Bearcats tied Texas Christian, which is headed to the Liberty Bowl, for the Conference USA title and gained a piece of their first conference crown since winning the Missouri Valley Conference crown in 1964.
Led by quarterback Gino Guidugli and running back DeMarco McClesky, Cincinnati features a wide-open attack, averaging 30.0 points per game, the second-best total in Conference USA.
Guidugli passed for a school-record 3,319 yards and 21 touchdowns, while McClesky rushed for 1,276 yards.
However, Cincinnati will be facing a North Texas team that is third nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 14.4 points per game.
The Mean Green (7-5) captured their second straight Sun Belt Conference title and earned a return trip to the New Orleans. This year, however, they made it with a winning record - their first since 1994.
Last season, North Texas qualified for the New Orleans Bowl with a 5-6 mark and lost to Colorado State, 45-20. However, the Mean Green ended a 42-year bowl drought, the longest in the country. They have an all-time bowl mark of 1-3.
North Texas' top threat is running back Kevin Galbreath, who rushed for 1,168 yards, his second straight 1,000-yard season.
Cincinnati suffered a 23-16 loss to Toledo in the Motor City Bowl last season and is 3-3 all-time in bowls.
Cincinnati and North Texas will be meeting for the 17th time, with the Mean Green holding an 8-7-1 edge. The teams were members of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1958-1970.