Duke Blue Devils vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)
Line: Cincinnati -7
The Belk Bowl, formerly known as the Continental Tire Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl, has another so-so matchup. But this game is a big deal to Duke. The Blue Devils have not played in a bowl game since the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl and they have not won a bowl since defeating Arkansas 7-6 in the 1960 Cotton Bowl.
Sexiness: Annabeth Gish
Let’s see how many people remember the star of movies like Mystic Pizza and Shag. Gish gets the nod here for being a 1993 Duke graduate, but also for being an obscure beauty. She could play the school geek, but also flash enough beauty to not be overlooked. More than likely, both of these teams would like to have the resume of Gish, but instead they’ll spend their time playing second fiddle to Julie Roberts-like opponents.
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Aces: QB Sean Renfree has really blossomed under the tutelage of coach David Cutcliffe. He doesn’t have a rifle for an arm, but he’s accurate and doesn’t make mistakes. He completed 66.3 percent of passes in 2012 for 2,755 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Deuces: Duke’s trio of wide receivers Connor Vernon, Jamison Crowder and Desmond Scott could be the reason the Devils pull off an upset in this game. They will create some matchup problems for Cincinnati.
Wildcard: On the emotional side, Duke will have a huge advantage … especially if this game stays close. Duke’s players would love nothing more than to end the program’s more than 50-year drought of winning a bowl game.
Aces: Cincinnati’s special red helmets that it will unveil at the Belk Bowl. It’s not like Cincinnati has any tradition to uphold, so hell yes, give me something different and a reason to tune in other than to see if Munchie Legaux will get any playing time.
Deuces: RB George Winn is a stout runner and if the Bearcats decided to ride him on offense against Duke I think he could carry the load. The senior has rushed for 1,204 yards and has 12 touchdowns on the ground. He will wear down the Duke defense.
Wildcard: It will be interesting to see how the Bearcats respond to not having Butch Jones on the sideline any longer, nor will they have their new coach Tommy Tuberville.
So you don’t forget...: It’s easy to see why Duke will be hyped for this game, but don’t overlook the motivation for Cincinnati. With a win the Bearcats will secure their 10th win for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Clearly the Big 12 or ACC will take notice, right?
Crystal Ball: The Bearcats are 9-3 and could have easily finished 11-1 in the watered down Big East. Cincinnati is more talented than Duke and should control this game.
Score: Cincinnati 34, Duke 21