Cincinnati started the year with a blowout win over a Big Ten opponent and a blowout loss to another -- neither of whom made bowl games. After the win to Purdue and loss to Illinois, the Bearcats won eight of their next nine games, with their only loss coming to South Florida (who was winless at the time). Cincinnati had an outside shot at the AAC title and a BCS bowl bid in the last week of the season, but a loss to Louisville ended those hopes.
North Carolina had a very poor start to the year, opening 1-5 with a blowout loss to East Carolina. The Tar Heels then went on a roll, defeating Boston College and Pitt during a five-game winning streak that brought them bowl eligibility. In the season finale, they lost by two to Duke, giving their fierce rivals the division title.
Rankings and records: Neither team is ranked. North Carolina went 6-6 in the regular season, with a 4-4 conference record good for fifth in the Coastal Division. Cincinnati boasts a 9-3 regular season record, with a 6-2 record in AAC play good for third in the conference. The Tar Heels have won both games in the series history.
Vegas: North Carolina is a three-point favorite. The over/under is 56.5 points.
Weather: Mid 40s.
Three names to know
Two things at stake
After a disastrous start to year two of Larry Fedora's tenure, North Carolina would clinch a winning season with a victory here.
Cincinnati wasn't one of the talked-about teams in the AAC this year, and a win over a major conference bowl opponent could improve the conference's stock in the eyes of the nation.
How to witness
TV: 3:20 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Online streaming: WatchESPN.
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Stadium: Bank of America Stadium (73,778)
Last year's score: Cincinnati 48, Duke 34
Last year's attendance: 48,128
Last year's TV rating: 2.6 (3.9 million viewers)
Last year's payout for each school: $1.7 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: North Carolina has appeared in the Belk Bowl three times. This will be the school's fourth appearance.
Team with the most all-time wins: Virginia, N.C. State and Boston College have each won the bowl twice.