The Bearcats are Belk Bowling in a little over 48 hours. As such, Scott King (Bearcats Blog), Matt Opper (Down the Drive), and I got together to preview the game. But first it only seemed appropriate that we wrap up the regular season. And we did so in a roundtable format. You can find those questions and answers here. Part 2, where we discuss the Belk Bowl and UC’s opponent the North Carolina Tar Heels, is below.
7) Based on last year’s performance, the Bearcats seem to pretty adept at taking down teams in hostile neutral site games (Va-Tech, FedEx Field. Duke, Belk Bowl). Do you think the likely tens of thousands of Tar Heel fans coming from up the road in Chapel Hill have an effect on this team?
Scott King (@BearcatsBlog): I don’t know how much the UNC fans will have an effect, but I agree they will definitely bring more fans. I think they are better than Duke was last year. Vegas does as well since UNC is a favorite. This is about as close to a road game as any of the bowls will be if I am correct, which I might not be, maybe it pumps the Tar Heels up a little more.
Matt Opper (@downthedrive): I don’t think the UNC fans will have much of an impact on the outcome of this game.
Chris Bains: I fully expect North Carolina to bring more fans than Duke did last season. Even so, I’m not sure what kind of factor they’ll make considering this is still a neutral site game despite being in enemy territory. Considering Cincinnati’s propensity to bring several thousand fans themselves to bowl games, that should help negate some of that effect. However I expect the atmosphere to be far more electric than last time around.
8) Which Tar Heel should make Bearcat fans nervous?
SK: I’ll go with Eric Ebron, the tight end. I don’t know who will try to cover him. Cincinnati’s linebackers and secondary have been picked on quite a bit. He’s their top target in terms of receptions and yards. He picks up 16 yards a reception, a big play threat. Three times this season he’s been corralled. One was by South Carolina in the opener. The other two were by Virginia and Old Dominion, who UNC beat 125-34 so they didn’t really need him to have a big game.
MO: Ryan Switzer. At this point any team with a competent special teams player goes down as a concern, Switzer was named a first team all american by many publications for his return prowess. Thats a bit of a worry in a one off game.
CB: Quarterback Marquise Williams could pose issues for Cincinnati’s defense in this game because of his dual-threat abilities and UC’s lack of speed at linebacker (outside of Temple).
9) Are we going to see a crazy point total in the Belk Bowl this year that we saw last year? UNC has had a pretty great offense in terms of scoring points lately. UC has put at least 20 on everyone since October.
SK: Yes. I think the winning team is going to put up 40.
MO: Probably. Bowl games tend to favor offenses for whatever reason, particularly when it is kind of close (only three weeks) to the regular season finale. The over under was in the mid 50’s last I looked, I would take the over.
CB: UNC is a tough team but their offense doesn’t outright worry me, not as much as some of the offenses Cincinnati has faced this year anyways. Now, I will say that QB Marquise Williams could pose a problem due to his ability to pick up chunks of yards with his legs. Cincinnati will have to plan for his dual-threat abilities. But the Bearcats boast the best defense the Tar Heels have seen in weeks. As such, I don’t think this year’s Belk Bowl will be as much of a shootout as last time around.