The results are in and North Carolina (6-6) is headed to the Belk Bowl, meaning that the fan base won’t be piling up a lot of double bonus miles, as the game will be in a close and familiar place, at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. UNC’s opponent will be Cincinnati (9-3) and the game will be played on December 28, with kick off time being at 3:20 p.m. EST. For those that can not make to the game. like myself, it will be shown nationally on ESPN.
“I’m excited for our team, especially our seniors, who fought through some early season adversity and won five of the last six games to become bowl eligible,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “This is a resilient bunch of guys that kept believing in one another throughout the year and I’m glad they were rewarded with a bowl game. We’re looking forward to facing a very good Cincinnati team led by an outstanding coach in Tommy Tuberville.”
The reality is after the first half of the season, with a 1 and 5 record, not many people outside of the team itself thought that they would be headed to a game past the regular season. But with a 5 and 1 second half, the only blemish a season finale loss to Duke, coach Fedora and his coaching staff was able to keep the team motivated and get them to play in a bowl game. Cincinnati had a six game winning streak snapped on their last game of the season as well. So both teams will be headed into this game with a loss on their backs and redemption on their minds.
“Congratulations to our students, coaches and staff for their hard work and dedication this season,” said UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. “We’ve had a history of great support in the city of Charlotte and certainly our fans will be excited to watch our seniors play one more game.”
North Carolina has not had a great history in this bowl game, no matter the name that it’s had during its existence. Starting with 2004, when it was called the Continental Tire Bowl, losing to Boston College, then in 2008 when UNC lost to West Virginia and the following year when Carolina went down to Pittsburgh. In both of those times it was known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
I am just happy that the team will be able to play one more game, to let its seniors and junior tight end Eric Ebron play once more in front of what should be a huge UNC attendance and to give the youngens that have been doing a great job get more practices and a last game in this campaign. Truth be known, I am sure that the coaching staff wants the win in this one, but they are very excited to get almost three weeks of extra practices thanks to being bowl eligible.
“We are very excited to have the University of North Carolina playing in the 2013 Belk Bowl,” said Will Webb, Belk Bowl Executive Director. “The Tar Heels finished the season very strong, as did the University of Cincinnati, and should provide a great match-up on the field. We are proud to host North Carolina family and fans in Charlotte for the 2013 Belk Bowl.”
The bowl is ready for UNC, now it’s up to Carolina to be ready for it and for Cincinnati, who is no pushover as they ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense and the top 15 in scoring defense under coordinator Art Kaufman, who served as linebackers coach under Butch Davis at UNC from 2009-10 and defensive coordinator under Everett Withers in 2011, and to snap the losing streak that the Heels have in Charlotte.
With well over two weeks before the game I will make sure to update this blog with information about the game, but for now, it is just nice to see that North Carolina is back to a bowl game. If they were to change the trend they have had in Charlotte, and win this game, it might just do more for the program than anything could have in the last decade. Time will tell, and for all of us that time will come at the end of December.
On a side note, for those of you that will be going to the game here is some information about how to get tickets…
Rams Club members and 2013 season ticket holders can request tickets for the Belk Bowl at GoHeels.com.
Priority deadline for those groups is Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m. Tickets are also available to the general public on GoHeels.com and start at $45.