NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The 2002 college football bowl campaign starts Tuesday night as North Texas and Cincinnati meet in the New Orleans Bowl.
Eleven days ago, the Bearcats (7-6) won a share of Conference USA by beating East Carolina. It was their first league title in 38 years, and their school-record third straight bowl appearance.
Cincinnati 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 C-USA.
Guidugli passed for a school-record 3,319 yards and 21 touchdowns. McClesky rushed for 1,276 yards.
The Bearcats 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, 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 was routed by Colorado State, 45-20, and ended a 42-year bowl drought, the longest in the country.
They have an all-time bowl mark of 1-3.
Their 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 all-time edge of 8-7-1. The teams were members of the MVC from 1958-70.