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Duke, 5 other ACC teams earn bowl invites

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CHARLOTTE — The Duke Blue Devils will make their first bowl appearance since 1994, taking on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 11th annual Belk Bowl Dec. 27 at Bank of America Stadium.

It’s the first appearance for both schools in the Belk Bowl.

Duke finished the season with a 6-6 record, including a 3-5 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Also, N.C. State will be going to a bowl as one of the six from the ACC that will play in the postseason. The Wolfpack will take on Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Blue Devils won six of their first eight games. They beat rival North Carolina 33-30 to become bowl eligible, but lost their final four games. Coach David Cutcliffe was named the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year and nine Blue Devils earned All-ACC recognition.

Cincinnati (9-3 overall, 5-2 in the Big East) won their first five games and then four of their last five contests to earn a share of the Big East title.

“Duke has made great strides this season and we are very proud to have them representing the ACC against the Co-Champions of the Big East,” Belk Bowl executive director Will Webb said. “We feel that the Blue Devils will provide a good matchup against the Bearcats in Charlotte.”

Cutcliffe said he couldn’t be more excited for his players, especially his seniors.

“I thought coming out of spring practice that we had a chance to be a good team, a bowl-caliber team,” Cutcliffe said. “We battled through some adversity, received tremendous leadership from our captains and reached the goal of playing in the postseason. This is a great opportunity for our seniors to end the season on a winning note.

“For our returning players, it is going to be a chance to gain invaluable experience and practice opportunity as we continue to grow as a program.”

The Bearcats will be playing in their 14th bowl game and sixth in the past seven seasons.

Cincinnati is 7-6 all-time in post-season games.

Vanderbilt will only have to travel a few miles from campus for its bowl game.

The Commodores (8-4) will face the Wolfpack (7-5) in a game matching a coach who just signed a contract extension against an interim coach from the ACC.

This will be just the sixth bowl game for Vanderbilt, and Coach James Franklin had his new contract announced earlier Sunday night for taking the Commodores to consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history.

Offensive coordinator Dana Bible of the Wolfpack will serve as interim head coach in place of Tom O’Brien, who was fired last weekend. The Wolfpack introduced new coach Dave Doeren at a news conference Sunday, but Bible will be in charge for the bowl.

The Wolfpack will be playing in its 27th postseason game and are one of only 12 teams to win back-to-back bowls.

“Nashville is a unique city with a tradition all its own,” athletics director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “The Wolfpack will enjoy becoming familiar with it and appreciate its charm.”

The Commodores beat Boston College 16-14 in 2008, their first bowl win in 53 wins. Linebacker Archibald Barnes, a fifth-year senior, was a redshirt that year. He couldn’t stop smiling looking over a room that had been filled with Vandy fans while school officials stayed busy selling T-shirts and taking ticket orders.

“The seniors who were here for the last Music City Bowl, we’re excited,” Barnes said.

Credit: The Associated Press.