2013 Belk Bowl
Cincinnati Bearcats vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina
Saturday, December 28, 2013, 3:20 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: North Carolina -3
Current Line: North Carolina: -2 1/2
Opening Total: 54 1/2
Current Total: 56 1/2
Opening Money Line: UNC -160 / Cincinnati +135
Current Money Line: UNC -135 / Cincinnati +115
For the second year in a row, the 9-3 Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to Charlotte to face a team from North Carolina in the Belk Bowl. After beating Duke 48-34 last season in Charlotte, Cincinnati takes on the 6-6 North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2013 edition of the Belk Bowl Saturday. The Tar Heels have won both meetings in history against the Bearcats, including 51-16 in 1991 in Chapel Hill.
Cincinnati finished third in the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East) with a 5-3 record. The Bearcats are 8-6 all-time in bowl games, and have won two straight bowl games. Cincinnati is making their sixth bowl trip in the last seven seasons. The Bearcats are 2-1 all-time in bowls against current ACC teams.
North Carolina went 4-4 in the ACC Coastal. The Tar Heels are 13-16 in bowl games. UNC has lost 4 of their last 5 bowl games, including 41-24 to Missouri in the 2011 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Tar Heels were banned from going to a bowl last year because of NCAA sanctions. North Carolina has never faced a current member of the AAC in a bowl game, but has played current ACC members Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Boston College who were members of the Big East at the time.
Cincinnati is coached by Tommy Tuberville. The Bearcats have road losses at Illinois 45-17 and South Florida 26-20, plus a home loss to Louisville 31-24 in overtime to close out the regular season. The Louisville loss snapped a six game winning streak for the Bearcats. Cincinnati has home wins over Purdue 42-7, Northwestern State 66-9, Temple 38-20, UConn 41-16, and SMU 28-25. Cincinnati has road wins at Miami-(OH) 14-0, Memphis 34-21., Rutgers 52-17, and at Houston 24-17. Cincinnati is 6-6 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. The Bearcats were 3 point underdogs against Louisville and the total was 49.
Cincinnati is outscoring teams 33-20 this season. The Bearcats are #12 nationally in points allowed and #38 in scoring out of 125 FBS teams. Cincinnati is averaging 482.3 yards per game on offense including 314 passing and 168.3 rushing yards. The Bearcats are #20 nationally in total offense and #15 in passing. On defense, the Bearcats are allowing 313.2 yards per game including 214.5 passing and 98.7 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati is #9 in total defense, #32 against the pass, and #5 against the rush. The Bearcats are -6 in turnovers with 26 giveaways. Cincinnati is averaging 60 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 54. The Bearcats are 96/193 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 64/185. Cincinnati has forced 35 sacks and allowed 12 this season. The Bearcats are 39/52 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns and opponents are 22/31 with 15 touchdowns. Cincinnati has allowed 4 defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown. The Bearcats have one pick six this season.
Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux broke his leg early in the season and is out for the year. Legaux was splitting the snaps with Brendon Kay, and Kay is now the full time starter. Kay has completed 68.6% of his passes for 3,121 yards with 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 64 carries, 152 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. Fullback Jordan Luallen has thrown for 129 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. Third string quarterback Bennie Coney has thrown a touchdown and a pick in limited action.
Running back Hosey Williams has 105 carries, 609 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Ralph Abernathy has 119 carries, 451 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 21 catches for 154 yards. Tion Green has 90 carries, 401 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 2 catches. He is questionable with a leg injury. Luallen has 47 carries for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns. Luallen is probable with a shoulder injury.
Receiver Anthony McClung has 68 catches, 908 yards and 5 touchdowns. Shaq Washington has 75 catches for 747 yards and a touchdown, along with a touchdown pass. Chris Moore has 43 catches for 599 yards and 9 touchdowns. Max Morrison has 28 catches, 436 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mekale McKay has 15 catches for 462 yards with 7 touchdowns. Blake Annen has 15 catches for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns. Four little used wide receivers, two offensive linemen and 2 defensive backs are listed as questionable or out Saturday against North Carolina.
North Carolina is coached by Larry Fedora. The Tar Heels started off the season 1-5 but went 5-1 down the stretch to sneak into a bowl game. UNC has road losses at South Carolina 27-10, Georgia Tech 28-20, and Virginia Tech 27-17, along with home losses to East Carolina 55-31, Miami-(FL) 27-23 and Duke 27-25 to close out the regular season. The Duke loss snapped a 5 game winning streak for the Tar Heels. North Carolina has home wins over Middle Tennessee 40-20, Boston College 34-10, Virginia 45-14, and Old Dominion 80-20, along with road wins at NC State 27-19, and Pitt 34-27. The Tar Heels are 7-5 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season. UNC was a 5 point favorite against Duke and the total was 62.5.
North Carolina is being outscored 32-25 this season. The Tar Heels are #47 in scoring and #51 in points allowed. UNC is averaging 432.4 total yards, including 286.2 passing and 146.2 rushing yards. The Tar Heels are #44 in total offense, #23 in passing and #86 out of 125 teams nationally in rushing. On defense, UNC is allowing 407.6 yards per game including 224 passing and 183.6 rushing. The Tar Heels are #71 in total defense, #52 in pass defense, and #82 in rush defense. UNC is +1 in turnovers with 17 takeaways. North Carolina is averaging 67 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 43. The Tar Heels are 83/191 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 86/216. UNC has forced 26 sacks and allowed 21 this season. The Tar Heels are 39/44 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns, and opponents are 35/40 with 23 touchdowns. North Carolina has 4 punt returns for touchdowns, a kick return for a touchdown and a pick six. The Tar Heels have allowed a kick return for a touchdown and 2 fumble returns for touchdowns.
UNC quarterback Bryn Renner is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Renner had completed 65.8% of his passes for 1,765 yards with 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 2 rushing touchdowns. He missed the Virginia Tech game with a foot injury and the last 4 games with the shoulder. Back-up Marquise Williams took over as the starter for those games. Williams has completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,527 yards with 14 touchdowns and 6 touchdowns. He is also the leading rusher for the Tar Heels with 102 carries with 490 yards and six touchdowns, plus he has a touchdown catch.
Running back T.J. Logan has 78 carries for 456 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 120 yards. He also has a kick return for a touchdown. A.J. Blue has 74 carries for 298 yards and a touchdown, along with 18 catches for 140 yards. He is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Romar Morris has 59 carries, 280 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 63 yards. Khris Francis has 53 carries for 208 yards and a touchdown, along with 11 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Eric Ebron has 55 catches, 895 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Quinshad Davis has 47 catches for 727 yards and 10 touchdowns, and even threw 2 touchdown passes. Ryan Switzer has 29 catches for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with a touchdown pass and 21 rushing yards. He also has 4 punt returns for touchdowns. Bug Howard has 22 catches for 278 yards and 4 touchdowns. T.J. Thorpe has 22 catches for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sean Tapley has 17 catches for 219 yards and a touchdown. Little used receiver Dalton Stogner is out for the season with a knee injury. Linebacker Shakeel Rashad and safety Sam Smiley are both out for the season.
Cincinnati is 4-0 ATS in neutral site games, 5-1 after a straight up loss, 4-1 in December and on grass, 14-5 in non-conference games, 5-2 after failing to cover, and 7-3 after passing for 280 yards or more.
North Carolina is 6-1 ATS overall and on grass, 5-1 after allowing 450 total yards or more, 9-3 after a straight up loss, and 2-8 after rushing for 200 yards or more.
I know this is a virtual home game for North Carolina in nearby Charlotte, but I think the wrong team is favored in this game. Cincinnati has a top 20 offense and a top 10 defense. Until an overtime loss to Louisville, the Bearcats were one of the hottest teams in the country. Yes, North Carolina had a 5 game winning streak of their own before a 2 point loss to ACC Coastal champ Duke in the regular season finale, but their best wins are over Middle Tennessee, Pitt, and Boston College. I like Cincinnati to pull off the mild upset, and they might even win by double digits.