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Belk Bowl

Pick 

Cincinnati

vs.

North Carolina

12/28/13

The records for these teams aren't the same, but when it comes down to it, both are fairly equal on the field. Cincinnati finished third in the AAC with an overall 9-3 record, while North Carolina was just 6-6 in seventh place in the ACC. Throw the records out the window because the Tar Heels are -3 point favorites for the Belk Bowl at betonline.

The betting trends at sportsbook.com show 71% of the wagers have come in on the Tarheels while 69% has come in on the under.

While UNC had a worse record, it also faced a much tougher schedule. After a rough 1-5 start, the Tar Heels reeled off five straight wins before losing to Duke 27-25 in the season finale. Three of their wins came against bowl opponents and every one of their losses was against a bowl team.

The same can't be said for Cincinnati, who had a creampuff schedule playing in the AAC. The Bearcats also started a bit slow, but won six straight games before losing in overtime to Louisville in their final game. Just two of their nine wins came against teams in bowl games, while they also have losses to bottom-feeders Illinois and South Florida.

Just by looking at those numbers would be the main reason for bettors to lean UNC. There's no way around it, Cincy's schedule is really weak and they were even one game worse against the spread.

Cincy QB Brendon Kay had a pretty good season considering he wasn't the starter going in. Despite just 10 starts, Kay had 3,121 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing close to 69 percent of his passes. He threw for at least 299 yards in his final six games, but when it counted most Kay had zero TDs and two INTs in the loss to Louisville. The Bearcats aren't a great rushing team, but still hand it off a good amount to a trio of backs led by Hosey Williams with 609 yards. Anthony McClung and Shaq Washington led the team by far in receptions, but it was Chris Moore and Mekale McKay who led the team in touchdowns with 16 between the two of them.

North Carolina's defense is solid, but it's not a unit that will come out and shut down an offense entirely. Kay will be able to reach 300 yards, but limiting his interceptions will be key.

The Bearcats have a great defense according to the numbers, allowing just 19.5 points per game, but that's in large part to their schedule. Giving up 45 points to Illinois and 26 to South Florida shows the flaws.

Despite losing its starting QB Bryn Renner in early November, UNC has gained a little spark with the more mobile Marquise Williams under center. Williams may not be as accurate throwing the ball, but he led the team in rushing with 490 yards and six TDs. Not to mention, he also had a solid 14 TDs and six INTs. Much like Cincy, the Tar Heels run game isn't great, but Williams is a threat as seen in his 104-yard, two TD performance against Duke. Tight end Eric Ebron (55 receptions, 895 yards) and wide receiver Quinshad Davis (724 yards, 10 TDs) are the players to watch for in the passing game.

As neither one of these defenses have shut down opponents this year, it will be a battle of the quarterbacks that weren't starters at the beginning of the season. Kay vs. Williams. The more mobile Williams may have the advantage as a dual threat.

The Bearcats have covered in four straight neutral site games and are 14-5 ATS in their last 19 non-conference games. The Tar Heels are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall. An interesting thing to look at for this game is that Cincinnati played on natural grass just once this year, while North Carolina played all 12 of its games on grass.

BELK BOWL PICK CINCI/NC $20

 

 

 

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