Cincinnati is more than just a town known for the Reds, great chili and the comedy classic WKRP, it also happens to boast a very good college football program.
UNC will see for itself when it takes on the American Athletic Conference team in the 2013 Belk Bowl on Saturday, December 28th, in Bank of America Stadium.
The Tar Heels, who battled their way to bowl eligibility with a 6-6 mark despite a 27-25 regular-season-ending loss to Duke, will face a 9-3 Bearcats squad coming off a 31-24 overtime loss to Louisville on December 5th.
Prior to that, the Bearcats enjoyed a six-game winning streak, similar to the five straight victories the Tar Heels piled up before falling to the Blue Devils. Even more impressively, four of Cincy’s wins came in double-digit fashion.
Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said he couldn’t have asked much more of his team heading into the clash vs. the Tar Heels.
“I’m proud of our football team from this past year. We went through a very tough time in transition with a new coaching staff and system, but I’m proud of our seniors. I’ve taken over three or four different teams in my career and the most important thing you have going for you are your seniors on your football team. They’re the ones that will make a decision whether you’re going to be successful that year by accepting the change and new ideas, and I had 14 or 15 guys that were an absolute blessing for the University of Cincinnati and for me as a head coach,” Tuberville said.
He also said he likes the fact his team doesn’t have much familiarity with this season’s edition of the Tar Heels.
“North Carolina has a great tradition. I know Larry Fedora, I have coached against him. They will be well prepared. They are a lot like us because they had a slow start and then won a lot of games in the end. We are probably a much better team now than we were at the beginning of the year, as they are. It is always good to go up against a team that you know nothing about, didn’t watch them at all during the year, and didn’t have a plan in the spring for playing North Carolina in the bowl game because you didn’t know it was going to happen.”
Tuberville does know what he has on his side of the ledger, including first-team all-conference performers in Sophomore OT Eric Lefeld (Coldwater, Ohio/Coldwater), senior TE Blake Annen (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington), junior RB/RS Ralph David Abernathy IV (Atlanta, Ga./Westminster School) and senior DL Jordan Stepp (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central).
Senior WR Anthony McClung (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), sophomore DL Silverberry Mouhon (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), senior LB Greg Blair (Pittsburgh, Pa./Schenley/Lackawanna CC) and senior CB Deven Drane (Plantation, Fla./Plantation) were second-team choices.
Cincinnati’s offense piled up 400 points on the season while allowing just 234. The Bearcats can get off to slow starts, getting outscored 61-52 in the first quarter. They are usually terrific coming out of intermission on both sides of the ball, though, boasting a 93-34 advantage.
The Bearcats have three players with over 400 rushing yards on the season, led by Hosey Williams (623 yards). Cincy’s passing attack is also effective, with quarterback Brendon Kay throwing for over 3,100 yards with 22 scoring strikes to 11 interceptions.
Tuberville said he hopes all his players will present their best to the Tar Heels, though he knows a win won’t be gifted to them this holiday season.
“For both teams, for both universities and for the people in this area, we’re excited about being here, looking forward to coming and spending Christmas and bringing our families and 71 young kids and our coaching staff that will spend Christmas here looking for Santa, I know he will be here somewhere,” Tuberville added.