UNC football accepts Belk Bowl bid

The North Carolina football team accepted a bid to the Belk Bowl for the first time since 2009 to play Cincinnati on Dec. 28, the school announced Sunday night.

It was widely anticipated that UNC would accept a bid to the bowl played at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. Junior tight end Eric Ebron was one of the first to tweet about his team’s bowl plans.

The Tar Heels have been to the Belk Bowl three times since its inception in 2002, first losing to Boston College 37-24 in 2004 before narrowly losing to West Virginia and Pittsburgh in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

UNC (6-6, 4-4 ACC) will make its first bowl appearance since Dec. 2011 when it lost to Missouri 41-24 in the Shreveport, La. Independence Bowl. In the 17-point loss, UNC quarterback Bryn Renner threw for 317 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Then-freshman tailback Giovani Bernard rushed for 31 yards.

The Tar Heels finished last season 8-4, 5-3 ACC, but NCAA sanctions stemming from the 2010 football scandal made the team bowl ineligible.

UNC became bowl eligible after defeating Old Dominion 80-20 on Nov. 23. After opening the season losing five of six games, UNC won five straight before dropping the regular season finale to Duke 27-25 on Nov. 23.

“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,” coach Larry Fedora said. “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 Bearcats (9-3, 6-2 AAC) punched their ticket to the Belk Bowl in an overtime loss to Louisville Thursday night. Tuberville, who’s in his first season with Cincinnati, used Twitter to confirm his team accepted a bid to the bowl Friday.

Cincinnati is no stranger to the Belk Bowl and defeated Duke at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium 48-34 in last year’s game. Quarterback Brendon Kay set a Belk Bowl record with four touchdown passes and was named the game MVP. He returns to the Belk Bowl with 3,121 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.

Quarterback Marquise Williams, who took the reins from senior quarterback Bryn Renner after he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against N.C. State on Nov. 2, leads the Tar Heels with 14 touchdown passes and six rushing scores.

The game will kickoff at 3:20 p.m. Dec. 28. Information on tickets can be found here.

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