Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) vs. Duke Blue Devils (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Belk Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Thursday December 27th, 2012. 6:30PM Eastern
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cin -7.5/Duke +7.5
Over/Under Total: 60
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Duke Blue Devils will be a part of postseason football activity when they meet the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. The last time Duke played in a bowl game dates all the way back to 1995 when the Blue Devils lost to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl. In order to find Duke’s last victory in postseason football, you would need to flip the record books all the way back to the 1960 Cotton Bowl where the Blue Devils pulled out a 7-6 victory over Arkansas. However, the Blue Devils have the chance to erase that 52 year drought and score another bowl victory when they meet the Bearcats in Charlotte on December 27th.
The 6-6 Blue Devils had a great start to the season before losing their final 4 games of the year. In fact there was a time this season when Duke led the ACC Coastal Division but faltered down the stretch. Duke’s success in 2012 can be largely accredited towards the play of the offense. Duke’s offense in general has historically been one of the worst in the ACC each year. However, Coach David Cutcliffe has instilled a more progressive passing offense which has the Blue Devils on the rise.
Duke’s offense has averaged 277 yards per game through the air and the ability to contend in the ACC. Senior QB Sean Renfree has been solid this season by completing 66% passing for 18 scores and 8 picks for 2,755 yards. Wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Conner Vernon have posted stellar numbers this year as well. Crowder leads the team with 1,025 receiving yards and 7 scores while Vernon has added another 955 receiving yards for 6 touchdowns. Collectively, these guys have the ability to move the football fairly well as you will likely see when they battle the Bearcats. However, the problem has not been the offense but rather the defense in 2012.
Duke’s defense has consistently been one of the worst units in college football this season giving up 462 total yards (104th in FBS) and 35 points (103rd in FBS) per game. Of course that is rather good news for Cincinnati who will ride into Charlotte following a respectable 9-3 mark this year. Cincinnati was caught a share of the Big East Championship but Louisville received the BCS bid due to their higher BCS ranking. Now the Bearcats will attempt to get above the .500 mark in postseason play considering the fact they are 6-6 all-time in bowl games.
The Bearcats have been pretty solid on both sides of the ball this season but they have excelled in the running game behind the legs of tailback George Winn. Winn has put together an impressive senior season by rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns. Winn’s 1,204 yards actually lead the entire Big East in rushing. Additionally QB Munchie Legaux is a legitimate running threat with the football and has added some respectable rushing numbers on the year. Legaux has struggled throwing the ball completing just 52% for 13 scores and 9 picks. Still, Cincinnati has averaged 200 yards per game on the ground as a team. That strong rushing attack is a big reason that the Bearcats are rather sizeable 7.5 favorites over the Blue Devils in the days leading up to kickoff.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Most of Duke’s defensive problems have been against the pass this season. If Legaux continues to play at an average level, I do not see Cincinnati running away with this one or at least posting a big number. On the flip side, I like the way the Bearcats stack up defensively against Duke and believe those reasons combined will push the scoring under the total mark. Take the under 60!
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