While Conner Vernon may have briefly doubted Duke could make a bowl, the 2012 Blue Devils have made that dream a reality. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
DURHAM—When asked what his first choice was for a bowl destination, cornerback Ross Cockrell said Miami.
While an ACC title and a trip to the Orange Bowl would have been nice, Duke players are plenty satisfied with Charlotte's Belk Bowl as a consolation prize.
"I’m excited to be in a pro stadium, in a pro locker room and see what that’s like," Cockrell said of the venue, the Carolina Panthers' Bank of America Stadium. "At the end of the day, it’s still a football game, and we have to go out and do what we have to do."
Cockrell was with a group of players in the football building Sunday night that had gathered to watch the BCS selection show. When they saw the Duke vs. Cincinnati matchup appear on the screen, it solidified a fact that, in the not too distant past, seemed impossible: Duke was going bowling.
A quick rundown on the Belk Bowl: it's an 11-year-old bowl owned and operated by Raycom Sports. It's had a few different names, beginning with the Queen City Bowl (its name when it was certified by the NCAA), Continental Tire Bowl (2002–2004) and the Meineke Car Care Bowl (2005–2010) before Belk took over the sponsorship before the 2011 game. The department store signed a three-year sponsorship contract at that point.
Other than 2006, when the bowl reached a one-year agreement with Navy, the game has featured an ACC vs. Big East matchup. In 2002, 73,535 people watched Virginia beat West Virginia 48-22 in the inaugural game. The ACC has a 6-4 record in the bowl (with Boston College contributing a victory for the Big East in 2004 and future ACC member Pittsburgh winning in 2009).
All-time Belk Bowl results
2011 N.C. State def. Louisville 31-24
2010 South Florida def. Clemson 31-26
2009 Pittsburgh def. North Carolina 19-17
2008 West Virginia def. North Carolina 31-30
2007 Wake Forest def. Connecticut 24-10
2006 Boston College def. Navy 25-24
2005 N.C. State def. South Florida 14-0
2004 Boston College def. North Carolina 37-24
2003 Virginia def. Pittsburgh 23-16
2002 Virginia def. West Virginia 48-22