After beating Duke by 2 TDs in this game a year ago, the Cincinnati Bearcats will once again take part in the Belk Bowl, this time against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bank of America Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN and has a start time of 3:20 pm (Eastern). Current odds have North Carolina listed as 2.5 point favorites, while the total sits at 56.5.
Analysis: Cincinnati will end its season in Charlotte for the second straight after defeating Duke 48-34 in last year’s Belk Bowl. The Bearcats did have an outside shot at the league title and BCS bowl, but a 31-24 loss to the Cardinals in overtime in the regular season finale ended those hopes. Still the Bearcats had a nice year, finishing up at 9-3 overall. Brendon Kay leads the Bearcats15th ranked passing offense, throwing for 3,121 yards and 22 TD's on 68.6% passing. He has made mistakes with 11 INTs, including four picks in the last two weeks of the season. Aiding Kay along the way was a talented receiving corps led by Anthony McClung, who led the team in receiving yards (908) while he ranked second in receptions (68) and receiving touchdowns (five). On defense the Bearcats one of five teams in the FBS holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rpg, while ranking 12th in points allowed at 12.5 ppg.
North Carolina won five of its final six games to become bowl eligible after starting 1-5 and was rewarded with its fourth trip to the Belk Bowl, where they are 1-2 in their previous 3 trips here. The Tar Heels became only the sixth team since the regular season expanded to 12 games in 2006 to start the season so poorly and make a bowl game. The Tar Heels lost starting QB Bryn Renner in early November, but Marquise Williams did a nice job in his stead, accounting for 1,279 total yards and 13 total TD's, while leading the Heels to the 3-1 finish. Williams finished the year with 490 yards on the ground to leed all Heels rushers, while TJ Logan Had 468 yards on the ground to finish second. Overall on offense, the Heels have averaged the fifth most ypg (432.4) in the ACC and also scored at a healthy 32.2 ppg, while on defense they allowed 25.1 ppg and 407.6 ypg.
Pick: I like the Heels in this one. Cincinnati has a very nice record, but who have they really faced. Their opponents have a .394 win pct and they have faced 3 bowl teams all year. They are 2-1 in those games, but still the two wins were vs Houston and Rutgers. Not powerhouses by any means. The Heels had a mediocre year, going 6-6 overall, but they did finish with a 5-1 mark in their last 6 games and for the year they played a much tougher schedule as their opponents had a .600 win pct on the year. Carolina gets this one in their home state and that will help them take this one by at least a TD.
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