WHO: 9-3 Cincinnati (AAC) vs. 6-6 North Carolina (ACC)
WHAT: Belk Bowl (12th Year)
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
WHEN: Dec. 28 at 3:20 p.m. ET
WHY: Cincinnati is back in the Belk Bowl a year after pulling away from Duke in a wild finish. This year the Bearcats face one of the hottest teams in the ACC, North Carolina. That’s right, the Tar Heels enter the postseason having lost to Duke but still are a dangerous team after turning their season around by winning five of their final six games just to become bowl eligible. With some dangerous offensive players, Cincinnati could have their hands full on defense.
The biggest player to keep an eye on for the Tar Heels may be tight end Eric Ebron. Few players can match Ebron’s size, hands and speed at the position, and he is going to be a constant presence all over the field, especially over the middle for Cincinnati. The Tar Heels also have a quarterback in Marquise Williams who will give the offense some options between run and pass. Williams has filled in nicely for the injured Bryn Renner.
Tommy Tuberville‘s team battled through a quarterback injury that was once thought to be the first nail in the coffin of the season. the loss of Munchie Legeaux was a setback but Brendon Kay entered in relief in admirable fashion. Kay passed for 3,121 yards and 22 touchdowns to keep Cincinnati’s offense on pace to make a run for a conference title.
This will likely become a battle between North Carolina’s up-tempo offense and the Cincinnati defense that will have to keep up. If Larry Fedora‘s system can wear down players like Cincinnati’s Greg Blair, the Tar Heels may be able to come up with a few more big plays to pull out a winning season nobody may have seen coming back in the middle of October.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 29, Cincinnati 23