The 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational presented by STAT BOX STORIES continues with the Belk Bowl, pitting the Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3, 5-2 Big East) against the Duke Blue Devils (6-6, 3-5 ACC) in a match-up between a team which shared the Big East Conference Championship and a team which barely earned their way into the postseason. STAT BOX STORIES owner Brian Parker opted to suit up in the all-white “stormtrooper” uniform set of his wife’s alma mater, Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Forces 8 Turnovers in Lopsided Belk Bowl Victory over Duke
Charlotte, N.C. – When the Blue Devils just managed to qualify for the postseason and got matched up against Cincinnati, the odds were certainly long for a Duke victory. Few, however, expected a 44-14 result as Cincinnati scored the first 37 points of the game on their way to a Belk Bowl rout.
Scoring was hard to come by—in the first half, anyway—as a promising drive for the Bearcats resulted in only a field goal to start off with an early 3-0 lead. The turnover bug bit both teams early, as Duke lost possession on an interception on their first drive and Cincinnati followed up with a red zone interception on the ensuing possession. In the process of the return, however, the Duke defender who grabbed the pick fumbled the ball right back to Cincinnati, setting up their second field goal of the game and a 6-0 lead.
A 54-yard touchdown pass from QB #4 to WR #7 jump-started the touchdowns with just under three minutes remaining in the first half, though the 13-0 halftime score still left plenty of room for the Blue Devils to work their way back into competition.
In the third quarter, a 21-second span truly put the game out of reach. With just under 5 minutes remaining in the quarter, a 41-yard pass—the second touchdown connection between Cincinnati QB #4 and WR #7—put the Bearcats up 20-0. On the third play of Duke’s next drive, QB #19 threw an interception which was returned 43 yards for a touchdown by CB #12.
It was a difficult game for QB #19, who contributed the lone offensive touchdown for the Blue Devils but was also responsible for three of his team’s four interceptions and two of the team’s four lost fumbles. By the time he broke through to the end zone on his touchdown run with 4:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, the game had long since been decided. Even with a 63-yard interception return for touchdown by Duke LE #84 just ten seconds later, the 37-14 score was truly as lopsided as it looked on the scoreboard.
Cincinnati’s five touchdowns were almost equally split between offense and defense, with the offense contributing the two passing scores along with one rushing touchdown on a wide receiver sweep, while CB #12 and CB #11 chipped in with long interception returns on defense.
Duke HB #23 had a solid game with 79 yards on 13 rushing attempts, but he was unable to find the end zone for a Blue Devils offense which managed only two trips into the red zone and scored only one touchdown to show for it.
Player of the Game: Cincinnati WR #7, who caught 6 passes for a total of 186 yards and two touchdowns to lead all receivers in those categories.
It was over when… Cincinnati scored two touchdowns—one passing, one defensive—in 21 seconds shortly into the third quarter. A game that was still close at 13-0 suddenly became a 27-0 rout which could not be overcome.
Game Ball goes to… Cincinnati SS #26, who forced two fumbles and made 12 tackles for a defense which held its opponent scoreless until 4:46 remaining in the game.
Stat of the Game: 8. That’s the combined number of turnovers suffered by the Blue Devils: four interceptions and four lost fumbles. While Cincinnati threw three interceptions of their own, the Bearcats still had a +5 turnover ratio.
Statistical Tidbits: Duke QB #19 tied the Belk Bowl record for most yards passing, matching West Virginia QB’s 332 yards from the 2008 game. … Both Cincinnati QB #4 and Duke QB #19—and their three interceptions each—tied the Belk Bowl record for most interceptions thrown. … Cincinnati HB #32’s 28 rushing attempts tied Pittsburgh’s HB in the 2009 game. … Cincinnati’s 30-point victory set a new record for margin of victory, previously 26 from the 2002 bowl game. … The Blue Devils and their four fumbles lost doubled the previous record for the bowl game; their 8 total turnovers eclipsed the previous team record of 3 turnovers in a game. … Neither team converted a fourth down on three combined attempts between them.