Duke Blue Devils, Cincinnati Bearcats Fight for the Love of the ACC in the Belk Bowl

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports — Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports — Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Well…

It’s finally time for ACC Football to show what it is made of for the 2012 Bowl Season.

And the first team christened to show what the conference is made of is none other than the Duke Blue
Devils

Yes…

Duke…

And this is football we are talking about and not College Basketball.

Now don’t take this the wrong way…

The Fighting David Cutcliffes have had an amazing season.

In fact, it’s pretty clear Cutcliffe has found a home and a way to build a viable football program at a basketball school.

But, to be honest, from a conference standpoint and a financial standpoint, the Virginia Tech
Hokies
or the North Carolina State Wolfpack should be playing in this game.

It is going to be pathetic seeing like one-third of the stadium filled…

But Duke it is, and Duke is who ACC Nation will be standing behind…

So with that…

Which Duke team is going to show up against the lame-duck Cincinnati Bearcats?

Will it be the team who looked like offensive world beaters who jumped out to 6-1…

Or will it be the team that got pushed around and finished the season 0-5 against the traditional big-boys of the ACC…

(tick-tock… only time will tell)

But there is no doubt which Cincy team will appear….

Interim Bearcats head coach Steve Stripling will be interviewing for another gig or a spot on Tommy Tubberville‘s new staff and will have his team ready to roll.

Counter that with the Blue Devils of the first half of the season who were the first ACC team to become bowl eligible for the first time under Cutcliffe and for the first time since 2004.

In other words…

Both teams are motivated and very hunger for a great showing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But the interesting thing for this game actually holds the Atlantic Coast Conference at the center of some very high drama.

As it currently stands, the ACC needs to have an epic if not 5-1 or 6-0 record in this years Bowl Games.

Rumors are rampant about the fact the Big 10 and Big 12 are trying to steal teams to give them a better shot at national relevance.

Then you have Cincy who is one of the three orphaned children from the decaying Big East who desperately wants to be in the ACC.

And to say desperately is a gross understatement…

So who will it be then…

The Blue Devils who need to pump up the ACC with a statement win against the Co-Big East Champion

Or the Bearcats who are looking to prove they will be a viable and powerful force for national recognition if the ACC accepts them into their fraternity.

(compelling right…)

But the key to game lies in one interesting stat…

There are only four bowl teams to win five of their past six bowl games…

Three of them are the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oregon Ducks.

The fourth is none other than the Bearcats…

Yep…

So look for a fun shootout and a game where Duke will jump out early and impress the nation but will not be able to stop Cincy late.

This game has multiple overtimes written all over it with the Bearcats winning 52-50.

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M Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years of experience in sports broadcasting and journalism, and is the ACC Football Guru, SEC Voice of Reason and College Football Comedian for Rant Sports. He is a member of the FWAA and the USBWA.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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