DURHAM, N.C. – Led by 2012 ACC Coach of the Year David Cutcliffe, Duke University will make its first bowl appearance in nearly two decades by meeting the University of Cincinnati in the 11th annual Belk Bowl on Thursday, December 27 in Charlotte, N.C.
Kickoff at Bank of America Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally live on ESPN.
Will Webb, executive director of the Belk Bowl, extended the invitation to the Blue Devils on Sunday. The meeting with the Blue Devils (6-6) and Bearcats (9-3) will mark the first on the gridiron between the two schools.
Blue Devil fans are encouraged to purchase tickets from the Duke allotment on GoDuke.com.
“I could not be more excited for our players – especially the seniors – to earn a berth in the Belk Bowl against a very good and well-coached Cincinnati team,” Cutcliffe said. “I thought coming out of spring practice that we had a chance to be a good team – a bowl-caliber team. We battled through some adversity, received tremendous leadership from our captains and reached the goal of playing in the postseason. This is a great opportunity for our seniors to end the season on a winning note. For our returning players, it is going to be a chance to gain invaluable experience and practice opportunity as we continue to grow as a program.”
Offensively, the Blue Devils are led by redshirt senior quarterback Sean Renfree, who has completed 260-of-392 passes for 2,755 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Duke boasts the nation’s only trio of receivers – Conner Vernon (75), Jamison Crowder (70) & Desmond Scott (61) – with 60-plus catches each. Rookie Jela Duncan paces Duke’s ground attack with 516 yards and four touchdowns on 99 attempts.
On defense, a pair of All-ACC defensive backs in safety Walt Canty and cornerback Ross Cockrell headline the unit. Canty leads the squad with 102 tackles while Cockrell has an ACC-best five interceptions to go along with 63 tackles.
“We are thrilled to announce that Duke University will be playing in the 2012 Belk Bowl against the University of Cincinnati,” said Webb. “Duke has made great strides this season and we are very proud to have them representing the ACC against the Co-Champions of the Big East. We feel that the Blue Devils will provide a good matchup against the Bearcats in Charlotte. We look forward to hosting both Duke and Cincinnati, and their fans, for the 2012 Belk Bowl and all the surrounding events.”
Duke will make its ninth bowl game appearance and first since dropping a 34-20 decision to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on January 2, 1995. The Blue Devils also have appeared in the Rose Bowl (1938 & 1941 seasons), Sugar Bowl (1944), Orange Bowl (1954 & 1957), Cotton Bowl (1960) and All American Bowl (1989).
The first college bowl game to call the Carolinas home, the Belk Bowl has averaged nearly 60,000 fans each year with three sellouts. In addition, the game has reached 28 million television households. Charlotte Collegiate Football, a non-profit organization, runs the Belk Bowl and serves as the local organizing committee for the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.