Chapel Hill - 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 (link). 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."
After starting the season 1-5, Carolina ran off five straight wins to finish the season 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the ACC. The Tar Heels will be making their fourth appearance in the Charlotte bowl game, but are seeking their first win. Carolina fell to Boston College in 2004, West Virginia in 2008 and Pittsburgh in 2009.
Carolina is just the sxith team since the regular season expanded to 12 games in 2006 to start the season 1-5 and make a bowl game. Only one - Rutgers in 2008 - came from a BCS conference. The turnaround is similar to the 2001 season when UNC opened with three losses, but rebounded to win five straight and win its bowl game over Tuberville's Auburn squad.
The Bearcats will be making their second appearance in the game after defeating Duke 48-34 last year in Charlotte. Cincinnati finished the regular season with a 9-3 overall record (6-2 AAC , third place). They won six of their last seven games to end the season.
College football's only bowl game to call the Carolinas home, the Belk Bowl has averaged almost 60,000 fans each year, with three sellouts. In its history, the game has reached over 30 million households while drawing almost 400,000 fans to FanFest.
Multi-Grammy nominee and CMA Entertainer of the Year Blake Shelton will be the featured act at the 2013 Belk Bowl FanFest, taking place outside the stadium before the game. The Belk Bowl FanFest is free to the public and will begin at 11:00 a.m., with Shelton scheduled to begin his performance at 1:30 p.m.
The Charlotte Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization, runs the Belk Bowl and serves as the local organizing committee for the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.