Although the Cincinnati Bearcats didn’t win the American Athletic Conference in 2013, they have still been considered successful with a 9-3 record. The Bearcats have been the model of consistency in college football for the past few years. In fact, they have recorded five 10-plus win seasons in the past seven years — looking to make it six.
The North Carolina Tar Heels were expected to have a successful season behind quarterback Bryn Renner, but the senior struggled and ended his career with a shoulder injury far too early. However, the Tar Heels rebounded from a 1-5 start to the year with a 5-1 ending to the year. It was surely a tale of two seasons.
Cincinnati lost starting quarterback Munchie Legaux early in the season to a devastating leg injury that ended his season after a couple games. However, the Bearcats had a solid quarterback ready in senior Brendon Kay who has passed for 3,121 yards and 22 touchdowns on the year with Anthony McClung as his favorite target. The wide out has caught 68 passes for 908 yards and five scores while Shaq Washington is close behind with 75 catches for 747 yards and a score. Hosey Williams leads the 68th-best rushing attack in the nation with 609 yards and four scores.
North Carolina also lost their starting quarterback in Bryn Renner with a shoulder injury, but, like the Bearcats, they had a solid backup ready to take over. Sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams took over and has excelled ever since, passing for 1,527 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year while also leading the team in rushing with 490 yards as well as six touchdowns on the ground. Eric Ebron leads all receivers with 55 catches for 895 yards and three touchdowns while Quinshad Davis has 47 catches for 724 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bearcats have been a solid unit this season. Cincinnati ranks 12th in the nation in points allowed per game as well as 11th in yards allowed with just over 325 per game. North Carolina ranks 50th in points against as well as 65th in yards allowed with just over 410 per game.
Cincinnati and North Carolina will face off in the 2013 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., at 3:20 p.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 28. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati 28, North Carolina 35
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.