Heels Headed For Belk Bowl

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2011, North Carolina will play in a bowl game having accepted an invitation to play in the Belk Bowl. UNC will face Cincinnati which finished the season 9-3 and third in the American Athletic Conference.The game will be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on December 28th at 3:20 PM.

From UNC:

The University of North Carolina has accepted an invitation to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 2013 Belk Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.   The Tar Heels will face Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference at 3:20 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN.

“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,” said head coach Larry Fedora.  “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.”

Rams Club members and 2013 season ticket holders can request tickets for the Belk Bowl at GoHeels.com. Priority deadline for those groups is Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m.  Tickets are also available to the general public on GoHeels.com and start at $45.

“Congratulations to our students, coaches and staff for their hard work and dedication this season,” said UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.  “We’ve had a history of great support in the city of Charlotte and certainly our fans will be excited to watch our seniors play one more game.”

The bowl game is UNC's first since the forgettable trip in 2011 to Shreveport for the Independence Bowl. UNC was blown out by Missouri 41-24 in a somewhat fitting conclusion to the Everett Withers/Butch Davis era. Misdeeds in the football program during that era led to UNC being ineligible for the postseason in 2012. The NCAA imposed ban cost the Tar Heels a berth in the ACC Championship game and potentially good bowl slot for a team that finished 8-4.

This will be UNC's fourth trip the the Belk Bowl which has previously been sponsored by Continental Tire and Meineke. The Tar Heels are 0-3 in their previous three appearances losing to Boston College 37-24 in 2004, West Virginia 31-30 in 2008 and Pittsburgh 19-17 in 2009.

Given where this season was in mid-October a bowl game is a nice way to end the season.  First and foremost, the seniors on this team, who have been through hell and high water over the past 4-5 years can end their careers with bowl game.  It also affords extra practices for continued development of the younger players and gives UNC a chance to finish with a winning record for a second straight season under Larry Fedora. More or less it's a a send off for the seniors with a look towards next season.

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