2017 Belk Bowl Preview
The 2017 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina is an exciting match up between the SEC and the ACC. This year should be no different. The Texas A&M Aggies from the SEC are playing the Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the ACC. The game is being played at the Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. It will undoubtedly give Wake Forest a home game feel. Bank of America Stadium is a mere 1 hour and 18 minute drive from Wake Forest University. Here is a brief 2017 Belk Bowl Preview to determine what, besides the short distance, will play a factor in the outcome of this game.
Teams: Texas A&M (7-5, SEC) vs. Wake Forest (7-5, ACC)
Date: Friday, December 29
Game Time: 1:00 pm EST
Venue: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
The Teams’ Seasons in Review
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M is amid a coaching change as the Aggies await Jimbo Fisher to take the helm. Interim coach Jeff Banks will coach the 2017 Belk Bowl. If the Aggies want to win in Charlotte, the defense will have to play big.
The Texas A&M secondary is inconsistent and has compensated for injury with youth. To offset the lack of depth and experience in the secondary, the Aggies have been very good at linebacker. Sophomore Tyrel Dodson has played particularly well. Dodson led the team with 97 tackles, was second in tackles for loss (TFLs) with 11 TFLs, and added 5.5 sacks, six pass break-ups, and three interceptions to an impressive season. The increased production from the linebacker group is partially based on the solid play of the Texas A&M defensive front. Even though the Aggies will be without senior defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, due to suspension, the front four looks to continue their dominant play up front.
The lone bright spot in the Aggies offense is potential first-round draft pick Christian Kirk at wide receiver. Despite the inconsistencies at quarterback, the junior receiver recorded six touchdowns and 575 receiving yards on the season. If the Aggies defense can stay consistent against a dominant Wake Forest offense and get to quarterback John Wolford, the Aggies could come out on top.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Demon Deacons ended the regular season with a home loss to Duke and have a lot to prove. Playing in the same division as Clemson, Florida State and Louisville often keeps Wake Forest from the spotlight. The main piece of the Demon Deacons is senior quarterback Wolford. Wolford is a scrambling quarterback that likes to make big plays downfield. This shows in the stats, as Wake Forest is ranked first in the ACC for plays over 30 yards with 37. Furthermore, Wolford has just 11 turnovers on the season.
Due to the inexperienced secondary of the Aggies, the veteran Wolford should be able to continue his big playmaking in the season finale. The Demon Deacons have not played in over a month. This break could come in handy for Wake Forest as they are awaiting the return of injured running back Cade Carney, who has not suited up since October.
The Wake Forest defense will have to prepare mainly for Aggies wide receiver Kirk, as the rest of the offense is a bit of mystery. There are three different quarterback options for the Aggies. The frontrunner for the job is true freshman Kellen Mond. Based on the uncertainty, look for solid coverage on Kirk, forcing whichever quarterback is in the game to make a play elsewhere.
Furthermore, this game will mark the 10-year anniversary of Wake Forest’s only other bowl game win in Charlotte. The Demon Deacons beat Connecticut 24-10, in what was then the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Wake Forest looks to repeat the dominant game in the 2017 Belk Bowl against an Aggies team that also saw a promising season go downhill due to injury.
History of the Belk Bowl
The home of the Carolina Panthers is the reason the Belk Bowl exists. Until 1996, the year Bank of America Stadium was built, Charlotte, NC did not have a stadium large enough to house a college football bowl game. The Continental Tire Bowl was played in Charlotte from 2002 through 2005, when the bowl game became known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl. This game became known as the Belk Bowl in 2011 and is managed by the Charlotte Sports Foundation.
The Charlotte Sports Foundation enhances the economy and quality of life for the Charlotte region through sports-related initiatives. These initiatives are highlighted by the bowl game played between the SEC and ACC every December.
The Belk Bowl is widely known as having the best Twitter account among all of college football’s bowl game. Follow them here: Belk Bowl.