Belk Bowl Pick – December 27th
Duke hasn’t been in a bowl game since 1995, and the Blue Devils haven’t won a bowl game since 1991. The Blue Devils went 6-6 this year, and they’ll take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl. Duke finished the regular season with four straight losses, while Cincinnati won four of their last five games. Let’s take a closer look at this contest.
Cincinnati lost Coach Butch Jones and picked up Coach Tommy Tubberville last week. It wasn’t a shock that Jones would leave the program to coach Tennessee, but it was a pretty shocker that Tubberville would leave Texas Tech to come coach at Cincinnati. Tubberville won’t coach the Bearcats in this game, but he’ll get started on the job as soon as this season ends. Cincinnati has been able to win football games this year because they run the football well and have done a nice job stopping the run.
George Winn leads the team with an impressive 1,204 rushing yards on the year. He averages 5.3 yards per carry, and he has 12 rushing touchdowns. Brendon Kay is the starter at quarterback now, and he has done a nice job taking care of the football. Kay has thrown six touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. Cincinnati’s defense is giving up only 17.2 points per game this year. The front seven has been great at shutting down their opponents running game.
David Cutcliffe has done a very nice job turning the Duke football program around. There is no doubt that Duke is a basketball school, and it always will be. Still, turning the football team into a decent ACC team is a major improvement from their previous cellar dweller days. It has helped to have a solid senior quarterback leading the way. Sean Renfree completed 66 percent of his passes during the regular season. He threw for 18 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Duke averaged 278 passing yards per game. The Blue Devils have three receivers with at least 61 catches on the year. Duke doesn’t have much of a running game, so they rely on short passes to keep the defense honest.
The Duke defense has struggled this year. The Blue Devils last four opponents all scored at least 42 points. For the season, Duke allowed 35 points per game. Duke has struggled against both the run and the pass. They’ll have to find a way to slow down the Bearcats running game if they are going to have any chance in this one.
Cincinnati should be able to do whatever they want against this Duke defense. At the same time, Duke’s short passing game is likely to have quite a bit of success against the Bearcats secondary. Look for this one to go over the total.
Cincinnati 35 Duke 28