The Belk Bowl, formerly the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and before that the Continental Tire Bowl, will be played for the 12th time this year. Traditionally, this game has matched up teams from the ACC and Big East (now the AAC), though Navy did crash the party in 2006.
The ACC holds a 6-5 record in this postseason game, the most recent of those wins coming 2011.
Date and time, ET: Saturday, Dec. 28, 3:20 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
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.
North Carolina (6-6, 4-4 ACC)
Finishing the year 6-6 and barely making themselves bowl-eligible is a far cry from the preseason expectations heaped upon the Tar Heels entering the 2013 season. But after starting the year 1-5 and losing its starting quarterback to a season-ending injury, North Carolina’s 5-1 finish makes for a nice consolation prize and is an encouraging sign for the future.
Despite a disappointing last-minute loss to Duke to close out the regular season, the Tar Heels showed marked improvement during the final half of the season, keyed by the maturation of sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams. Even before Bryn Renner went down, Williams was getting meaningful snaps in the Tar Heels’ "diamond" package, designed to take full advantage of Williams’ running ability.
Last bowl game: 2011 Independence Bowl vs. Missouri, 41-24 loss
Last year without a bowl: 2012
All-time bowl record: 13-16
Head coach's bowl record: Larry Fedora, 2-2
Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2 AAC)
Despite enduring a coaching change after last season (Butch Jones left for Tennessee), the Cincinnati Bearcats were no worse for wear, finishing the regular season with a 9-3 record for the third consecutive season. They can finish with their third consecutive 10-win year by topping UNC in Charlotte. The Bearcats have some experience beating teams from Tobacco Road in this game -- they did it just last year.
The Bearcats are led offensively by quarterback Brendon Kay, who has thrown for 3,108 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Receivers Anthony McClung and Shaq Washington both average more than six catches per game and should figure heavily into Cincinnati's attack. On the defensive side, linebacker Greg Blair leads the team in tackles with 96, while Silverberry Mouhon is the team's top pass-rushing threat.
Last bowl game: 2012 Belk Bowl vs. Duke, 48-34 win
Last year without a bowl: 2010
All-time bowl record: 6-5
Head coach's bowl record: Tommy Tuberville, 7-3