The University of Cincinnati will essentially be playing without a head coach in the Belk Bowl on December 27th. Butch Jones left for a new job and Tommy Tuberville’s hiring isn’t quite official. So, defensive coach Steve Stripling will be leading the Bearcats in the bowl game.
But they will be playing with snazzy new helmets.
Cincinnati ended up in a four-way tie for the Big East title (9-3 overall), but didn’t play in the title game, thus no BCS Bowl bid. Instead, they have to face a 6-6 Duke team (that is bowl bound for the first time since 1994) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.
The two teams have similar offenses (both average 31 points per game) though Cincinnati relies on the running game (199.8 yards per game) more than Duke (119 ypg). Duke gets more passing yards per game (277.6 compared to 231), but the Bearcats pick up more yards per catch (14.4 compared to 10.6).
The difference between the two teams is their defenses. Cincinnati allows just 17.2 PPG while Duke allows 35 points. The Blue Devils allow about 200 rushing yards per game, which is about Cincinnati’s average. They also allow 261.8 passing yards per game, which is well over what the Bearcats average. The Bearcats like the first and third quarters, where they have scored over 100 points in each this season and have not given up 50 total points in either of those quarters.
Greg Blair leads the Bearcats in tackles with 123. He also has two interceptions and forced a fumble. He was named to the All-Big East first team on defense at line backer. Dan Giordano, a defensive lineman, joined Blair on the first team. He has five sacks and 51 tackles. Walter Stewart, a fellow defensive lineman, also has five sacks. He was named to the All-Big East second team (along with punter Pat O’Donnell).
In terms of Cincinnati’s rushing game, George Winn is THE guy. He averages about 100 yards a game and 5.3 yards per carry. He has 12 touchdowns and was named a second team All-Big East selection. When their two quarterbacks run the football, they average about six yards per carry.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Bearcats play two of them. Munchie Legaux (yup that’s his name) has thrown 13 TDs and averages 171.6 yards per game. He has completed 120-of-230 passes, but has thrown nine interceptions. The longest pass he has thrown was for 78 yards. Oh and he had a rush this season of 77 yards.
Brendon Kay is the Bearcats other quarterback and just recently received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. He has completed 70-of-113 passes and thrown six TDs. He averages close to 97 yards a game and has thrown two interceptions. Kay has been starting of late.
Who do they like to throw to?
They pretty much throw it all over the field and have quite a few trick plays. Tight end Travis Kelce has caught the most passes (40) and has tallied up the most yards (599) on the Bearcats. That earned him a first team All-Big East selection. He also has the most receiving touchdowns (seven). He averages 49.9 yards per game and 15 yards per catch.
Kenbrell Thompkins has caught 32 passes for 523 yards for an average of 43.6 per game. He has two TDs and averages 16.3 yards per catch. Anthony McClung has 31 catches for 429 yards and averages 39 yards per game. He averages 13.8 yards per catch. Damon Julian has caught 24 catches for 377 yards and averages 15.7 yards per catch. He has caught four TD passes and averages 31.4 yards per catch.
It should be an interesting game and hopefully Duke can beat the big and mighty team from the Big East.
Check out a preview of the Belk Bowl HERE.