Belk Bowl Preview
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)
December 27, 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
What to expect from the Bearcats: There are a few things we can expect Cincinnati to do against Duke, but for starters, we’ll see a lot of running back Georgia Winn. He rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns this season off a 5.3 yards-per-carry average, and that won’t come to a halt against a Blue Devil defense that ranks 102nd against the run.
In addition, the Bearcats have a very good run defense. They will attempt to force the Duke offense into becoming one-dimensional behind quarterback Sean Renfree, who has proved to be inconsistent at times.
What to expect from the Blue Devils: Duke hasn’t won a bowl game in 52 years – or a regular season game in over two months – so it will definitely be hungry. But like many of its previous games, it’ll have to outscore Cincinnati, and that’s been quite difficult as of late.
The Blue Devils have one of the worst overall defenses in the FBS, allowing 35.0 points per game (104th in the NCAA). To put that into perspective, they put up 45 points in their season finale against Miami (Fla.) and still lost. The Bearcats don’t have an overwhelming offense like Clemson or Florida State, but they do have playmakers that can find the end zone – and they’ll have to be stopped at some point.
Synopsis: When Brian Kelly left Cincinnati for Notre Dame a few years ago, the Bearcats were thrashed by Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Butch Jones’ departure isn’t nearly the same magnitude of loss, but I’m sure the players aren’t too happy with it.
If this were a few weeks ago, and Butch Jones had decided to stay with UC, I’d think that the Bearcats would win this one in a blowout. But with neither Jones nor new head coach Tommy Tuberville on the sidelines, this has the makings for a close one. Still, Cincinnati’s ability to control the clock and run the football gives it the edge to win the Military Bowl – marking its second straight postseason victory.
Cincinnati 23, Duke 20 --- via Bowl Predictions