Belk Bowl Preview
Thursday, December 27th
Belk Bowl - Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC 6:300 PM ET
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Duke Blue Devils (+7/60)
How Cincinnati got here
Cincinnati is one of a number of teams that will be playing a bowl without the coach that got it there. Butch Jones turned down an offer from Colorado amid speculation that he was staying with the Bearcats only to find out the next day he was heading to Tennessee. The Bearcats hired Tommy Tuberville away from Texas Tech but defensive line coach Steve Stripling will coach the team, as announced following Jones' departure. Cincinnati claimed a share of the Big East title with a 5-2 record and it is 9-3 overall with a chance to win 10 games for the fifth time in six years. All three losses were by a touchdown or less including a setback at home against Rutgers that ended the chance of an outright championship. Conversely, seven of the nine wins were by double-digits.
How Duke got here
Duke became bowl eligible in Week Eight of the season to head to the postseason for the first time since 1994. While that was a great accomplishment, the Blue Devils took the remainder of the season off as they lost their last four games albeit against some pretty strong competition. The good news is that Duke will have had a month to forget about that horrible ending and focus on its first bowl game in nearly two decades. The Blue Devils are excited about playing this game just over two hours from their campus and there will be two forms of motivation here. Duke will be out to avoid a losing season and not head into next year on a five-game losing streak while at the same time, win the programs first bowl game since 1960.
Duke has allowed an average of 49.5 ppg and 593.3 ypg during its four-game losing skid.
Cincinnati is buoyed by a strong rushing attack that was second in the Big East, averaging 199.8 ypg. The passing game was not nearly as efficient but a change at quarterback made that unit stronger down the stretch as Brendon Kay replaced Munchie Legaux with five games left. While the offense is not explosive, the Bearcats should have success against a Duke defense that is 104th overall and 103rd in scoring. The Blue Devils offense will have to perform at a high level to stay in this one and while they struggled down the stretch, rumor has it that some new wrinkles have been added for this game. Cincinnati is 41st in total defense but 12th in scoring defense thanks to an opportunistic defense that had 24 takeaways. Duke gave it up only 17 times though. The Bearcats allowed 17 points or less in each of their last four games and seven of 12 on the season.
Cincinnati is 13-3 ATS in its last 16 games away from home after allowing 17 points or less in two straight games.
Duke went over the total in nine of its 11 games this season and is 7-0-1 to the over in its last eight games against teams with a winning record.
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