BELK BOWL STORYLINES
1. Making its first bowl appearance in 17 years, Duke does not have to make a long trip as the Blue Devils meet Cincinnati in Charlotte, N.C., less than three hours from their campus in Durham. Led by ACC Coach of the Year David Cutcliffe and despite the excitement of heading to its first bowl game since 1995, Duke is on a four-game losing streak that has seen the Blue Devils allow 49.5 points during that span.
2. For the third time since 2006, Cincinnati goes into its postseason game without the coach that led the Bearcats during the season. After winning or sharing its fourth Big East Conference championship in the past five years, Cincinnati lost third-year coach Butch Jones on Dec. 7 to Tennessee, but 36 hours later hired former Texas Tech, Auburn, and Mississippi coach Tommy Tuberville. Offensive line coach Steve Stripling will coach the Bearcats in the bowl game.
3. With constant conference realignment in the air, Cincinnati has made no secret is would like to be in the ACC, which offered a spot to Louisville earlier this month. And the Bearcats would like to make a statement in the Belk Bowl, taking on Duke from the ACC. Cincinnati is making its 14th bowl appearance and sixth in the last seven years. In September, the Bearcats rallied to beat Virginia Tech in Washington D.C., knocking the Hokies out of the Top 25.