Two schools that have never played football against each other along with each team making their first-ever appearance at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium will be meeting Dec. 26 in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl when Washington of the Pac 12 Conference crosses paths with Southern Miss of Conference USA.
Kickoff for the sixth annual Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl is set for 1:20 p.m. CT on ESPN. The post-Christmas game will also be aired by the Heart of Dallas Bowl radio network in both English and Spanish for the second-straight year.
“We are delighted with this matchup, especially since a Pac-12 Conference school will be competing in our game for the first-time,” said Brant Ringler, the Executive Director the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. “Coach Petersen’s (Washington coach Chris) team ended the regular season strong with an impressive win over Washington State (45-10). The Huskies rank as the Pac-12’s top defense with two outstanding freshman playmakers on offense. We look forward to hosting the Huskies and all their fans.”
While Southern Miss will be competing in its 23rd bowl games (10-12 record) and the first since 2011, Washington will be competing in the post-season for the sixth-straight season and 36th-time overall. The Huskies are 2-3 in their last five post-season contests and have posted a 16-17-1 overall record in bowl games.
Coached by Chris Peterson, Washington ended the regular-season with back-to-back wins over Oregon State (52-7) and in-state rival Washington State (45-10) to become the 10th Pac-12 school to qualify for the post-season. Ten of the 12 Huskie opponents qualified for bowl games this season as Washington ranked as the Pac-12’s top defensive team by
allowing 17.8 points a game while yielding a league-low 349.9 yards per game.
Sophomores cornerback Sidney Jones and safety Budda Baker earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors as voted by the league’s coaches. Both players were in their second-season as a starter as Baker had 42 tackles and a pair of interceptions while Jones ended the regular-season tied for the Pac-12 lead in passes defended (13) and forced fumbles (3) while also finishing third in interceptions (4) and fourth in fumble recoveries (2). He scored a pair of defensive touchdowns this season.
The Huskie offense was lead by a pair of freshmen – quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin. Browning established a UW freshman marks for passing yards in a season with 2,468 and TD tosses with 20. Myles rushed for a Huskie freshman record 1,121 yards, the 11th most in school history.
As the “most improved” college football program in 2015, head coach Todd Monken’s Southern Miss squad finished the regular season with a 9-3 record (7-1 league record) and earned a spot in the Conference USA Championship game. Southern Miss dropped a 45-28 decision at Western Kentucky Saturday in the for the C-USA title.
Ticket prices for the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl range from $25 for general admission seating to $125 for chair back seats. Tickets can be purchased through the bowl’s web site at www.HeartofDallasBowl.com.
The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl will occur during the 86th year of games being played at Cotton Bowl Stadium. The historic facility is located on the grounds of Fair Park, which features 227 acres of museums, attractions, history, art and performances located in the “heart” of the ninth largest city in the United States.
After two seasons as the TicketCity Bowl, the name of the postseason game at Cotton Bowl Stadium was changed to the Heart of Dallas Bowl for the 2013 game. Texas Tech (2011 over Northwestern), Houston (2012 over Penn State), Oklahoma State (2013 over Purdue), North Texas (2014 over UNLV) and Louisiana Tech (2015 over Illinois) have posted Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl wins.