Belk Bowl Pick: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina
Belk Bowl Matchup: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
Date/Time: December 28th, 3:20 ET
Belk Bowl Odds from Bookmaker
Point Spread: North Carolina -3
The North Carolina Tar Heels were one of the hottest teams down the stretch of the season this year, and they are going to try to win a de facto home game this year in the Belk Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
This is nothing new to Cincinnati, as it beat a Duke Blue Devils outfit who turned out to be pretty good this year in another one of these de facto road games here at the Belk Bowl. There’s always a degree of complacency for bettors when teams come back to the same bowl game for the second straight season, but this is all that Cincy could have expected out of this season, as it was always the third best team at best in the AAC this year. Though there were nine wins this year, we really look back at those nine wins and cringe. Really, the only one of any note that was good was the one against the Houston Cougars, and that was only by seven points. The whole rest of the AAC was awfully bad, and the Bearcats dodged the UCF Knights this season as well, the champs of the conference. With QB Munchie Legaux out for the season, QB Brendon Kay has taken over and thrown for 3,103 yards. He finished the year with six straight games with at least 299 passing yards, and he has really transformed this club into a pass-happy attack.
Few teams had a tougher schedule this season than did the Tar Heels. Oh sure, they avoided the Florida State Seminoles, but they did start the year with the South Carolina Gamecocks, and that was the beginning of a 1-5 start to the season. From there, UNC ripped off six straight wins, including blasting the Boston College Eagles, who turned out to be a pretty darn good side. The Heels couldn’t best the Duke Blue Devils at the end of the season to get a share of the ACC Coastal Division crown, but they have clearly shown that they have a team which can do some damage. Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson has left to go to the Arkansas State Red Wolves as their fourth head coach in four years, and that could hurt an offense which really came on strong at the end of the season. QB Marquise Williams took over as the starter for QB Bryn Renner after the 1-5 start, and the offense really turned it around at that point. Williams had 490 rushing yards and 1,527 passing yards with 14 TDs in essentially just six games.
UNC is playing in its first bowl game in two years after being ineligible for the postseason last year. The team has just one bowl win, a 30-27 victory in the Music City Bowl in 2010, since the 2001 season, and that came could have easily been lost. Cincy has won back to back bowl games in de facto road games, beating both Duke last year and the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Liberty Bowl in 2011.