by CFP Staff
December 27, 2012
With defensive line coach Steve Stripling serving as interim head coach, Cincinnati pulled away late for an improbable 48-34 Belk Bowl win on Thursday (December 27) in Charlotte.
The Bearcats claimed their third straight win to finish the season at 10-3 after tying for the Big East crown with Louisville, Rutgers and Syracuse. Cincinnati improved its bowl record to 7-6 with its second straight bowl win.
Duke was vying to clinch its first winning season since 1995 by claiming its first bowl victory since the 1960 season Cotton Bowl. Instead, the Blue Devils fell to 6-7 on the season and 3-6 in bowl games.
You can't help but feel for Josh Snead, the Duke running back who fumbled on the Cincinnati 5 with 1:20 left as his team was driving for the go-ahead touchdown touchdown. Four plays later, Cincinnati went ahead 41-34 on a 83-yard touchdown pass from Brendon Kay to Travis Kelce. Nick Temple intercepted Sean Renfree's pass and returned it 55 yards for the final margin on the third play of Duke's ensuing drive.
It wasn't the first lead of the game blown by Duke.
The Blue Devils scored on the game's opening drive and raced to a 16-0 lead after adding a field goal and another touchdown on a blocked punt and recovery. But Cincinnati rallied on Kay touchdown passes of 26 yards to Anthony McClung and 41 yards to Ralph Abernathy to take a 17-16 lead at the break. Both scores came in the final 4:02 of the first half and Duke missed a 48-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
Cincinnati stretched its lead to 27-16 before Duke came roaring back with 15 unanswered points for a 31-27 lead early in the fourth. The Bearcats went back in front 34-31 on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Chris Moore before Ross Martin's 52-yard field goal tied the game at 34-apiece with 7:24 to play.
Kay finished with 332 yards, 4 TD passes and 0 INT's for Cincinnati. Kelce (123 yards) and McClung (111 yards) each topped the 100-yard receiving mark for the Bearcats, and George Winn had 16 rushes for 129 yards and a score to pace the Cincinnati running game.
Renfree passed for 357 yards but had 2 picks and just 1 TD for Duke. Conner Vernon had 10 catches for 118 yards for the Blue Devils. Snead had 107 yards on 17 carries.
Duke ended the year with 5 straight losses after winning 6 of its first 8 games.
ACC teams are now 6-5 in eleven Charlotte bowl games while Big East teams are 5-5 and Independents (Navy) are 0-1.
Butch Jones left Cincinnati on December 7 when he was announced as the new head coach at Tennessee. Jones' 3-year record was 23-14 overall and 12-9 in the Big East. Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville was announced as Jones' surprising replacement at Cincinnati on December 8.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com had given Cincinnati a 12.92-point edge in the ballgame.