Duke

Belk Bowl puts spotlight on Duke football

Posted December 24, 2012

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6); Dec. 27, 6:30, ESPN

It has taken 18 long years, but Duke has finally qualified for a postseason game. It’s a momentous event, even for a university that spends most of its fan capital on the hardwood at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After coming close under head coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils became bowl-eligible with a rousing upset of rival North Carolina on Oct. 20. However, they’ve also dropped four straight games and five of their last six, a reminder of just how far the school is from being a competitor in the ACC.

Cutcliffe will use this first-ever meeting with Cincinnati to generate a higher level of interest from the area’s best recruits, and more notoriety on a national level. He and his kids are also eager to bring Duke its first bowl victory since all the way back in 1960.

Players to Watch: Cincinnati will lean heavily on the ground game. And for good reason.

Senior RB George Winn has been a pleasant surprise as the successor to Isaiah Pead, rushing for 1,204 yards and a dozen touchdowns. He’ll be running behind an unheralded line that’s especially strong on the left side, with T Eric Lefeld and G Austen Bujnoch. While Brendon Kay brought stability to quarterback midway through the year, the Bearcats won’t frighten a veteran Duke secondary through the air. Oh, and then there’s the business of a Blue Devils D yielding 4.8 yards per carry and almost 200 yards a game on the ground.

The Blue Devils have the edge behind center. They’ll need to leverage that advantage to win on Thursday in Charlotte.

QB Sean Renfree is about to cap his third year as the starter in Durham with a long-awaited bowl trip. He’s a savvy distributor, with a great feel for Cutcliffe’s system. He also has access to one of the ACC’s better receiving tandems, Conner Vernon and Jamison Crowder, who’ve combined to catch 145 passes. They’ll be facing an interesting challenge this week, going up against a Cincinnati defensive backfield that’s given up only 11 touchdown passes in a dozen games.

The big story in Cincinnati this fall has been the play of the defense, which far exceeded expectations.

Although there aren’t a lot of big names on the Bearcats D, it hasn’t prevented the unit from allowing only 17 points a game. Even a potentially career-ending neck injury to DE Walter Stewart, the group’s best player, couldn’t keep it from ranking fourth nationally in red zone defense. A veteran has elevated his game at each level; DE Dan Giordano, LB Greg Blair and CB Camerron Cheatham. Blair has been particularly revelatory in his second season out of junior college, leading the team emotionally and physically with a Bearcats-best 123 stops.

Cincinnati will win if … it rushes for at least 175 yards.

Sustained drives from the Bearcats will be Duke’s undoing in its return to the postseason. The Blue Devils must get their defense off the field as quickly as possible, and their offense in a huddle formation. But that won’t happen if Winn and Ralph David Abernathy are routinely snapping off six-yard gains. Cincinnati is capable of wearing down an average Duke D, and exceeding 30 points, but only if the ground game is the catalyst. Kay has been serviceable, especially when targeting all-league TE Travis Kelce, but he’s not the kind of quarterback who’ll light up an opposing defense with his arm.

Duke will win if … Renfree plays his best game of the season.

The Blue Devils won’t run the ball with any consistency. And they can’t rely on a defense that allowed an average of 45 points a game in the second half of the regular season. Fair or not, the upset rests on the right shoulder of No. 19. Renfree has to win the battle with the Cincinnati secondary … handily. That means throwing three touchdown passes, and maximizing the talents of all of his receivers, including Crowder, Vernon, Desmond Scott and the tight ends. For Duke to earn its first bowl win in 52 years, Renfree has to walk out of Bank of America Stadium as the MVP.

What Will Happen: Duke owns the intangibles. But will that be enough to take down a more talented Cincinnati team?

The Blue Devils are geeked about being a part of the postseason for the first time in 18 years. The Bearcats, on the other hand, are in a state of flux on the sidelines. The sidebars could make the Belk Bowl more competitive, but it won’t change the fact that Cincinnati is the superior program. Duke will wind up being a little too one-dimensional for an opponent that can win a game a number of ways. Winn will rush for 100 yards, the defense will come up big and Tuberville will be handed some momentum to carry with him into spring camp.

25 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Banned by Sissies Dec 26, 7:27 p.m.

    I pull for Carolina Blue but in the scheme of the NCAA, I pull for the ACC. I am sick and tired... View More

    — Posted by LetsGetHigh

    Let's get high? with a comment like "the ACC is as strong as the SEC in fball," you... View More

    — Posted by uncsuckz

    High as a kite! That's some good

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Dec 26, 7:24 p.m.

    Get real... Duke got lucky this year. The best team in the Divison is having to sit this one out... View More

    — Posted by CoolBlue83

    It's not that Duke got lucky. Duke didn't beat anybody worth shootin' this year. They lost to every good team they played. The only marginally good team Duke beat was Carolina, and they had to steal that one at the end.

    Duke just finally beat the six teams on their schedule that they SHOULD have beaten.

  • Dudeanonymous Dec 26, 3:51 p.m.

    Get real... Duke got lucky this year. The best team in the Divison is having to sit this one out... View More

    — Posted by CoolBlue83

    Sour grapes. unc football got everything it deserved for hiring Butch Davis. Actually, I think they got off easy.

  • CoolBlue83 Dec 26, 1:35 p.m.

    Get real... Duke got lucky this year. The best team in the Divison is having to sit this one out because of a few semi-pro's that weren't even part of this year's team. To not recognize the great job Fedora did with a team that was under fire from the get go is a slap in the face to coaches who do things the right way. The ACC is an unmitigated disaster and the fact that subpar teams go to bowls is a clear indicator that the college post-season is a joke.

  • uncsuckz Dec 26, 9:59 a.m.

    I pull for Carolina Blue but in the scheme of the NCAA, I pull for the ACC. I am sick and tired... View More

    — Posted by LetsGetHigh

    Let's get high? with a comment like "the ACC is as strong as the SEC in fball," you must already BE high. LOL. the ACC is irrelevant in fball; second tier. why else would our very best high school fball players flock to the SEC or B1G?

  • Dudeanonymous Dec 26, 7:37 a.m.

    I truly hope Duke wins, but I'm afraid they lose in a bad way. Cincy averages almost 200 yds./gm... View More

    — Posted by kornfan2448

    2 weeks ago, I would completely agree. However, Cutcliffe has made some key position changes to slow down Cincy's running game (not stop), and to give Duke better pass protection and run blocking than the last few games of the season.

    Duke has had a couple of key players to return from injury, which has made these position changes possible (Brandon Braxton & Jamal Bruce). I'm not saying that Duke will automatically win now, but I do believe it won't be a 14+ point lopsided score as I thought before.... I'm convinced this will be a tighter game than most think.

    ESPN correctly observed during the Bowl Mania show that "Cutcliffe is one of the most underrated coaches in the NCAA." Since Duke returns a large core of their players next season, he is treating this game as the beginning of the 2013 season rather than the end game of 2012.

  • hokies94vt@gmail.com Dec 25, 9:02 p.m.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^My main statement was directed to letsgethigh. He wrote about the ACC vs the SEC. I was stating the fact that not many on here wrote very much anything ragarding Duke football. Durham Devil. Read all of it. I have pulled for Duke football and Coach Cut for a long time. I met the man once. I'm 24/7 reader on here. Obviously, you are counting too much. Go Hokies. Win a Bowl game. Let's go Duke. Win a Bowl game.

  • 903 mens national championships Dec 25, 8:24 p.m.

    This post tells me even more about Duke fans on here. Nothing much. It's easy to be fair weather... View More

    Not sure where this is coming from. Many of us have been supporting Duke football thru thick and thin even thru the Clemson, FSU, and GT part of the schedule that didn't go so well. And yes, we do show up with basketball when Coach K is winning. That part isn't too hard considering he's the winningest coach in NCAA history.

  • DurhamDevil Dec 25, 8:08 p.m.

    I have to disagree with Letsgethigh. The ACC hasn't done much in several years now in putting a... View More

    — Posted by hokies94vt@gmail.com

    This Dukie is here 24/7 and has been for over 45 years. I support the Devils through thick and thin, year after year. Just because I don't have 18,796 posts, doesn't mean I'm not pulling for my team.

    Coach Cut said it best a few years back - there is a difference between being a "fan" and being a "supporter". Fans are there when you win, supporters are there even when you lose.

    I am so proud of the Devils this year. And I will always believe my team has a chance whenever they take the field.

    GO DEVILS!!!

  • hokies94vt@gmail.com Dec 25, 7:15 p.m.

    I have to disagree with Letsgethigh. The ACC hasn't done much in several years now in putting a team in the Championship game. The SEC rules with the top athletes in the Country. They have won National Championship's. Over and over. This post tells me even more about Duke fans on here. Nothing much. It's easy to be fair weather fans. They show up with basketball when Coach K is winning.

More...

 

 

  • Big 10: Michigan at Michigan State

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA Golf: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Super Bowl: Seattle vs. New England

    Tonight at 6:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC Women: Louisville at Duke

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 620am

  • ACC: NC State at Wake Forest

    Tuesday at 8:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Anaheim

    Tuesday at 10:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
DEN 86
CHA 104
1:00pm Today
ECU
CIN
 
Final
ORL 93
DAL 108
Final
IND 94
SAC 99
Final
WAS 116
TOR 120
Final
DET 114
HOU 101
Final
ATL 91
PHI 85
Final
MIN 90
CLE 106
Final
MEM 85
OKC 74
Final
MIL 95
POR 88
Final
DEN 86
CHA 104
Final
SAN 85
LAC 105
Final
GSW 106
PHO 87
1:00pm Today
BOS
MIA
 
2:00pm Today
NYK
LAL
 
Final
TENN 71
AUB 63
Final
CLEM 64
BC 49
Final
STJOE 75
DAVID 70
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
PITT 76
ND 72
Final
STJ 75
PROV 66
Final
UNH 63
USB 48
 
Final
WVU 77
TTU 58
Final
TEMPL 55
TULA 37
Final
EMICH 69
WMICH 63
 
Final
IOWA 63
WISC 74
Final
SHU 90
XAV 82
Final
UF 57
ARK 56
Final
STET 75
LIP 73
 
Final
ILL 60
PSU 58
Final
TULSA 78
SFLA 71
Final
INDST 64
BRAD 58
 
Final
MAINE 59
GTDNS 77
 
Final
LEH 89
BU 86
 
Final
MARQ 68
BUT 72
Final
DEL 71
COC 68
 
Final
CREI 40
GEOR 67
Final
CLST 76
UWGB 62
 
Final
NEOM 65
MAST 75
 
Final
LOYC 45
ILLST 48
 
Final
KU 68
KYST 57
Final
JVU 50
KNST 51
 
Final
MSST 73
LSU 67
Final
SHU 71
MNTER 77
 
Final
VCU 55
RICH 64
Final
ISU 83
TCU 66
Final
BING 76
MLOWELL 69
 
Final
HART 46
VERM 65
 
Final
DEP 55
VILL 68
Final
WAKE 73
VT 70
Final
UGST 74
ARKST 43
 
Final
FAM 44
COOK 61
 
Final
NDAK 80
IDST 69
 
Final
ARMY 71
GHND 77
 
Final
BEL 71
TENT 53
 
Final
TXSA 57
UAB 65
Final
ILLCH 65
VALPO 70
 
Final
DRAK 70
EVAN 65
 
Final
IND 72
RUTG 64
Final
UMO 79
BST 73
 
Final
RMU 68
BRY 71
 
Final
WAGN 86
CCST 55
 
Final
GWEBB 66
CCAR 64
 
Final
MDES 92
COPST 82
 
Final
RFLSH 68
FD 63
 
Final
RIU 59
GWU 55
Final
SCAR 67
UGA 50
Final
Terriers 81
LIU 64
 
Final
PAC 71
LMU 76
 
Final
STLU 56
UMASS 60
Final
HOW 64
MRGST 48
 
Final
DREX 85
UNCW 76
 
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
MIZZ 47
MISS 67
Final
ALCOR 56
SOUTH 65
 
Final
NIOWA 70
WICHS 54
Final
JMU 65
WMARY 84
 
Final
RAD 73
WINT 66
 
Final
EILL 57
SIUE 54
 
Final
UNCA 70
CAMP 63
 
Final
MORE 57
EKENT 66
 
Final
NICST 58
INCWORD 69
 
Final
CMICH 74
OHIO 69
 
Final
TEXAM 69
VANDY 58
Final
UWMIL 78
DET 74
 
Final
UNCG 73
WCU 78
 
Final
EWASH 98
IDAHO 95
 
Final
SDKST 69
DEN 39
 
Final
SHSU 63
HOUB 52
 
Final
MVSU 75
JST 62
 
Final
TXST 63
LALAF 72
 
Final
LATU 81
MARS 57
Final
SD 72
ORU 73
 
Final
LAMON 67
SALA 61
 
Final
PVU 89
ALAAM 63
 
Final
GRAM 53
ARKPB 65
 
Final
PRIN 64
DART 53
 
Final
SCST 78
DELST 74
 
Final
COLST 80
FRES 57
Final
MINN 60
NEB 42
Final
WYO 63
NEV 55
Final
GAELS 62
PEPP 67
 
Final
NW 60
PURD 68
Final
BAY 83
TEX 60
Final
CHAT 78
CITA 73
 
Final
SMISS 62
WKENT 73
Final
CORN 57
YALE 65
 
Final
NORST 63
HAMP 60
 
Final
SAV 59
NCAT 62
 
Final
BGU 68
AKR 69
 
Final
KENT 70
ALA 55
Final
CLMB 86
BRO 65
 
Final
LIB 62
CSOU 74
 
Final
BUCK 69
COL 71
 
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
NE 80
ELON 61
 
Final
CHAR 70
FIU 78
Final
ODU 68
FATL 57
Final
SAMF 68
FUR 58
 
Final
DUQ 62
GMAS 53
Final
PENN 38
HARV 63
 
Final
LBSU 65
HAW 50
 
Final
BONA 56
LAS 66
Final
NAVY 65
LAF 74
 
Final
PBY 67
LONG 71
 
Final
WOFF 49
MERC 46
 
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
MCNST 68
NO 61
 
Final
FLGC 74
NKENTUCKY 64
 
Final
IONA 68
PETE 61
 
Final
UNF 74
USCU 79
 
Final
LAM 84
ABCHRIST 74
 
Final
GSOUT 76
ARKLR 61
 
Final
STEPH 61
TAMCC 51
 
Final
UCR 66
CSNO 62
 
Final
SELA 73
NWST 88
 
Final
OKST 56
OKLA 64
Final
UNT 75
RICE 65
Final
SDU 77
USF 69
 
Final
NMU 67
SJST 41
Final
PEAY 64
SEMIZ 70
 
Final
NILL 69
TOL 80
 
Final
HOF 72
TOWS 86
 
Final
SMU 75
UCF 56
Final
MURST 65
TENNM 62
 
Final
SDST 62
UTST 42
Final
MIZST 52
SILL 46
 
Final
TXARL 54
TROY 55
 
Final
TXSOU 80
ALAST 65
 
Final
TENST 45
JVST 43
 
Final
WASU 89
STAN 88
Final
GRCN 55
CHIST 56
 
Final
UTEP 83
MTST 70
Final
SUTAH 60
NARZ 81
 
Final
BYU 78
SCU 57
 
Final
NMST 53
TXPA 48
 
Final
NCOL 71
WEBER 57
 
Final
UNLV 74
AFA 63
Final
UCD 81
CPSL 78
 
Final
GONZ 82
MEM 64
Final
UCI 77
UCSB 55
 
Final
SACST 70
MONT 69
 
Final
PORST 80
MNTST 62
 
Final
UCLA 72
COL 59
Final
CALST 71
SEAT 61
 
Final
WLVRN 59
UMKC 66
 
12:30pm Today
FSU
MIAMI
 
12:30pm Today
YOUNG
OU
 
1:00pm Today
ECU
CIN
 
1:00pm Today
MSU
MICH
 
2:00pm Today
DAY
FORD
 
2:00pm Today
MON
MAN
 
2:00pm Today
CAN
MAR
 
2:00pm Today
NIAG
QUIN
 
2:30pm Today
USC
UTAH
 
3:00pm Today
WASH
CAL
 
3:00pm Today
HOU
UCONN
 
3:00pm Today
WILL
NDST
 
Final
DET 4
NYI 1
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
WIN 2
DAL 5
Final
NJD 3
FLA 1
Final
PHI 1
TOR 0
Final
TAM 3
CLB 1
Final
CAL 4
EDM 2
Final
SJS 2
CHI 0
1:00pm Today
MON
ARI
 
1:00pm Today
WAS
STL
 
2:00pm Today
PIT
NAS
 
3:30pm Today
VAN
MIN
 
6:30pm Tonight
SEA
NEP