CINCINNATI BEARCATS (9-3)
vs. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (6-6)
Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, NC
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:20 p.m. ET
Line: North Carolina -2.5, Total: 56.5
Both entering this game off a regular-season-ending loss that snapped a long winning streak, Cincinnati and North Carolina will square off in this yearís Belk Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
This is the second consecutive year the Bearcats are in the Belk Bowl, taking down Duke last year in Charlotte with a late fourth-quarter run. Cincinnati had won six games in a row before losing the Keg of Nails to Louisville in its final game of the season. Overall, the Bearcats went 9-3 SU and 6-6 ATS. This is head coach Tommy Tubervilleís first year coaching Cincinnati, and he is just 3-14 ATS in his career after a game where his team gained 300 or more passing yards. The Tar Heels had won five in a row toward the end of the season before losing their finale to Duke 27-25. They finished 6-5 ATS. North Carolina is 2-0 all time against Cincinnati, though neither of those games occurred in the last 20 years.
Which team will capture the Belk Bowl victory? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013-14 bowl season. The four experts finished the regular season a collective 51.1% ATS (120-115-7) on college football Best Bets, led by StatFox Dave's stellar 57% ATS (35-25-2) mark. This included a 64% ATS (23-13-2) record in his final 11 weeks. StatFox Gary was 2-1 ATS in the final week to finish 53% ATS (21-19-1) in the regular season. Gary was 56% ATS (20-16-1) in college football Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Brian also finished strong with a 3-1 ATS mark on Best Bets in Championship Week, giving him his fourth straight winning season of college football Best Bets at 52% ATS (33-30-1). StatFox Scott is looking to repeat a huge 2012-13 bowl season, when he posted a 71% ATS mark in Best Bets (5-2-1).
North Carolina QB Marquise Williams has performed admirably since taking over for Bryn Renner (shoulder), completing 58.2% of his passes for 1,527 yards, 14 TD and only 6 INT. Heís also really dangerous with his legs, rushing for a team-high 490 yards on 4.8 YPC with six touchdowns. Heís blessed with arguably the nationís best tight end in Eric Ebron (55 catches, 895 yards, 3 TD), who almost surely will be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. The other top target is WR Quinshad Davis, who leads the team with 10 TD on 724 yards. Itís certainly a pass-first offense, though RB T.J. Logan averages a respectable 5.8 YPC and rushed for 229 yards over the final two games of the season. UNCís rush defense gives up 4.1 YPC while opposing passers complete 57.1% of their passes.
Like the Tar Heels, Cincinnati has a pass-heavy offense, averaging 313.8 YPG (15th in nation). Senior QB Brendon Kay has assumed the duties under center, completing 69% of his passes for 3,121 yards, 22 TD and 11 INT. Though he throws a better ball than Williams, heís not really a threat with his legs in the same way. He has three receivers who have gained more than 500 receiving yards in Anthony McClung (908 yards, 68 catches, 5 TD), Shaq Washington (747 yards, 75 catches, 1 TD) and Chris Moore (599 yards, 43 catches, 9 TD). Also watch out for big-play threat Mekale McKay, who has only 15 catches but for 462 yards (30.8 avg.) and seven touchdowns. On the ground, Hosey Williams (609 yards, 5.8 YPC, 4 TD), Ralph Abernathy (451 yards, 3.8 YPC, 4 TD) and Tion Green (409 yards, 4.5 YPC, 7 TD) divide the carries. Though Kay canít run for distance, itís worth noting he also has six rushing touchdowns. The Bearcats defense isnít too shabby either, giving up 19.5 PPG (12th fewest in the nation).