Bearcats, Tar Heels know their way around Charlotte
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - North Carolina - INSIDE SLANT
Nearby North Carolina will be making its fourth trip to the postseason game that was initiated in 2002.
Cincinnati played in the game last year, beating Duke, 48-34, in the highest-scoring game of the bowl's 11-year history.
The Tar Heels (6-6) from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Bearcats (9-3) from the American Athletic Conference will meet Dec. 28 in Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.
Both teams will be coming off losses that ended long winning streaks.
After winning only one of their first six games, the Tar Heels won five in a row to gain bowl eligibility until losing to ACC Coastal Division champion Duke in their finale.
The Tar Heels thus became only the sixth team since the regular season was expanded to 12 games in 2006 to make a bowl game after starting a season 1-5. The only other team from an automatic qualifying BCS conference to do it was Rutgers in 2008.
The Bearcats were sitting at 3-2 after a stunning loss to South Florida, then won six in a row before dropping an overtime decision to Louisville in their last game.
Both teams have had to contend with health issues, including season-ending injuries to their starting quarterbacks.
Cincinnati lost Munchie Legaux in the second week of the season. Senior Brendon Kay stepped in for Legaux and became the first Bearcats quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards passing since Ben Mauk in 2007.
"You can't ask any more from this team," Tuberville said.
North Carolina was without veteran Bryn Renner at quarterback for five games, including the last four. Sophomore Marquis Williams, who had one start when Renner was injured earlier, took over and continued Carolina's comeback drive by passing for 990 yards over the last four games.
"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," coach Larry Fedora said of his Tar Heels.
This will be only the third meeting between the Bearcats and Tar Heels. Carolina has won both of the previous games, 35-14 in 1979 and 51-16 in the 1991 opener.
This one looks to be a much more competitive affair, with North Carolina's fast-paced offense facing a challenge from Cincinnati's defense, which is No. 9 in the nation in total defense and No 12 in scoring defense.
NCAAF Team Report - North Carolina - NOTES, QUOTES