Bearcats Belk Bowl Keys To The Game

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

What does Cincinnati have to do to beat North Carolina and become the first school to win two Belks in a row since Virginia did so in the first two editions of this game.

Keep Brendon Kay Upright

It seems fitting, really, that for the first game in which he is truly healthy since July Kay will be operating behind an offensive line that is down two all conference performers. I am not that concerned about the Bearcats ability to find a cohesive unit. But finding a rhythm for those guys is going to be crucial, particularly early.

As a team the Tar Heels don't have a ferocious pass rush, but they do have two every capable edge rushers in Kareem Martin and Norkeithus Otis. At the top of the list for UC will be containing that rush and giving Kay time to throw against a Tar Heels secondary that has pretty good numbers, but hasn't faced an overabundance of competent = passing games. UC's receivers are perfectly capable of winning their battles against this group if Kay has time.

No Hero Ball

The flip side of that point is that Brendon Kay can't continue to make the same volume of mistakes he made down the stretch and expect the Bearcats to win. Over the first two months of the season his interception rate was a 2 percent, that's borderline elite. But once the calendar ticked over to November his interception rate doubled to 4 percent .

That in and of itself is serviceable, the problem was the way he threw the interceptions, often in bunches and by trying to do too much. He had three separate multi interception games in November and December, which is as many as he had in the other 22 games of his career. Kay needs to get back to playing smart football, its what made him special in the first place.

Push The Pocket

The concern with North Carolina's offense revolves around the legs of Marquis Williams more so than his arm. He has brought more volatility to the passing game, for better or worse, but what he has really done is turned North Carolina into a competent team running the football.

They still struggle at times with sloppy execution on the line on designed runs. At times the best running play they have is simply having Williams scramble when he drops back. To combat that the Bearcats have to be more disciplined in their pass rush than they were against Louisville. The main concern is controlling the pocket and collapsing it on Williams to cut off his escape routes.

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