Heart of Dallas Bowl 2017: West Virginia vs. Utah Schedule, Time and Odds

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2017

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 09:  Justin Crawford #25 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrates his second quarter touchdown with Gary Jennings #12 against the East Carolina Pirates at Mountaineer Field on September 9, 2017 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl features a matchup between West Virginia and Utah, two teams from power conferences looking to end their seasons on a high note after an up-and-down campaign.

While the Mountaineers had a chance to make some noise following a 5-2 start, they lost three of their last five games, including back-to-back defeats to close the regular season.

Meanwhile, Utah faded after a 4-0 start and needed a victory over Colorado in the season finale just to achieve bowl eligibility.

Let's check out all of the important viewing details for the post-Christmas clash in Dallas. That's followed by a preview and prediction for the bowl game.

              

Key Information

Where: Cotton Bowl in Dallas

When: Tuesday, Dec. 26 at 1:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Tickets: StubHub

Odds: Utah -6.5 (via OddsShark)

          

Game Preview

Utah's season could look a lot differentand in a more high-profile bowl gameif it had performed better in one-score games against ranked opponents. The Utes went 0-3 against USC, Washington State and Washington, losing by a combined 12 points.

West Virginia also suffered a couple of close defeats to ranked foes, losing by a touchdown against both Virginia Tech and TCU, but it gave up 109 points in losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma during its 2-3 stretch to close out the campaign.

Bill Riley of KALL provided an interesting tidbit about the game:

The most impressive stat from either side heading into the contest has nothing to do with the players on the field. Instead, it belongs to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, who owns a 10-1 record in bowl games with the Utes.

"Our secret formula is our players prepare hard and do it the right way and that's what it's all about," he told reporters. "We don't have a routine or a process that is super top secret. It's just our guys in our program taking a lot of pride in bowl games and they prepare the right way."

Meanwhile, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen understands the challenge of going up against a coach who's done so well when given extra time to prepare.

"To play the likes of Utah, of the Pac-12, is an honor. We're excited about that," he said. "We're very aware of their history, especially in bowl games.

"I think they've won them all recently. It's going to be a challenge for us. Coach Whittingham does a great job with that program. It's a national brand. We're excited about this matchup."

The Mountaineers are also heading into the game without starting quarterback Will Grier, who remains sidelined with a finger injury. Chris Chugunov, who's completed 54.8 percent of his throws with two touchdowns and no interceptions on 62 attempts while filling the void, will draw the start.

Efficiency numbers suggest it's a pretty even game. West Virginia's 21st-ranked offense will take on Utah's 29th-ranked defense, while the Utes' 61st-rated offense faces the Mountaineers' 61st-rated defense, according to ESPN.com.

So don't be surprised if a key play on special teams turns what should be a close battle in favor of Utah, which ranks ninth in special teams efficiency compared to WVU at No. 120.

Prediction: 24-21 Utah

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