Charlotte, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils, representing the Atlantic Coast Conference, will face the Cincinnati Bearcats, co-champions of the Big East Conference, will clash in the 2012 Belk Bowl. Both teams will be making their first appearance in the Charlotte game that has also operated as the Continental Tire Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The game has been an ACC-Big East matchup every year except for 2006 when Boston College played Navy. That was also the only time that the game did not include a school based in the Carolinas or Virginia.
The 11th annual classic will take place on Thursday, December 27, with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised nationally on ESPN. The first college bowl game to call the Carolinas home, the Bowl has averaged almost 60,000 fans each year with three sellouts. In addition, the game has reached 28 million television households.
Duke finished the season with a 6-6 overall record (3-5 in the ACC, fifth in the Coastal Division). Duke won six of its first eight games, including a 33-30 win over rival North Carolina to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. However, the team hasn't won a game (0-4) since becoming eligible for the postseason. Other than a bowl-clinching win against rival North Carolina, the Blue Devils also didn't defeat a FBS team which won more than 5 games.
Still, head coach David Cutcliffe was named the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year and nine Blue Devils earned all-ACC recognition following the regular season. With senior quarterback Sean Renfree headlining the offense, Duke is the only team in the nation to have three receivers with 60-plus receptions this season.
Cincinnati finished the regular season with a 9-3 overall record and tied for first place in the Big East with a 5-2 conference mark. The Bearcats won their first five games before dropping consecutive road matches at Toledo and Louisville. Unlike Duke, Cincinnati rebounded to win four of its last five and wound up sharing a piece of the Big East title for the fourth time in five seasons. But Virginia Tech (6-6) and Syracuse (7-5) are the only bowl teams that Cincinnati defeated.
Cincinnati is 6-6 all-time in bowl games.
Duke is 3-5 in its bowl history with the last win coming in the 1960 season Cotton Bowl over Arkansas. The Blue Devils' drought is the longest between victories of any FBS team besides Northwestern (1948) and New Mexico State (also 1960). The football team is 38-163 since losing to Wisconsin in the 1995 Hall Of Fame Bowl and hasn't posted a single winning season.
Defensive line coach Steve Stripling was named interim head coach for Cincinnati after Butch Jones was announced on December 7 as the new head coach at Tennessee. Jones' 3-year record was 23-14 overall and 12-9 in the Big East. Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville was announced as the new head coach at Cincinnati on December 8.
The Congrove Computer Rankings project Cincinnati to win by 12.92 points as it gives this game the second-widest margin of all the 2012 postseason contests (Oklahoma State is a 19.61-point favorite over Purdue in the Heart Of Dallas Bowl).