CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- When North Carolina freshman Ryan Switzer reported to training camp in August he was a little miffed to learn he was third on the depth chart at punt returner.
"I kind of got mad because when I was getting recruited I was told I going to start at punt return," Switzer said.
Rather than pout, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Switzer went about working even harder to earn the starting job.
The 18-year-old not only did that, but capped a memorable season Saturday by returning a punt 86 yards for a touchdown to help North Carolina beat Cincinnati 39-17 for its first Belk Bowl title in four tries. It was Switzer's fifth punt return for a TD this season, tying an NCAA record.
T.J. Logan returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, Marquise Williams threw for 171 yards and a score and Romar Morris had two short TD runs as the Tar Heels (7-6) won a bowl game for the first time since 2010.
The victory also capped a huge turnaround for the Tar Heels, who started the season 1-5.
"We're standing here today because of our coaching staff and our senior leadership," said Switzer, the game's MVP. "Those two groups, they didn't let us hang our heads. They didn't let one person walk into the building who wasn't willing to work. We knew we had the talent the ability to turn the season around. We had to have the heart to do it."
Said second-year coach Larry Fedora: "At 1-5, nobody thought we would be sitting here today. But these guys kept believing and got it done."
Cincinnati (9-4) was looking to become the bowl's first back-to-back champion since Virginia did it 10 years ago, but Brendon Kay -- the MVP last year -- was limited to 181 yards passing and no touchdowns.
The Tar Heels brought relentless pressure and had five sacks, including one for a safety.
"They knew we were missing some starters on the offensive line, and they threw the kitchen sink at us," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "They twisted, they did all kinds of things up front, and our quarterback could never set his feet. He didn't have a chance. ... We expected it, but there's not a lot we could do about it."
North Carolina came in having lost its previous three in-state Belk Bowl appearances, but bolted to a 23-3 halftime lead behind a pair of long touchdown drives led by Williams and Logan's nifty kickoff return.
After Morris scored on a 2-yard run to make it 7-0, Brandon Ellerbe and Kareem Martin sacked Kay in the end zone for a safety -- the first of three sacks in the opening half. On the ensuing kickoff, Logan put the Tar Heels in control by fielding the ball near the left sideline and cutting back up the middle of the field for the score.
Williams made it 23-3 in the second quarter, hitting Tabb on a quick slant for a 3-yard touchdown strike.
"I thought our defense was just dominating in the first half," Fedora said.
Unlike last year's Belk Bowl when Cincinnati spotted Duke 17 points and stormed back to win 48-34 behind Kay's four touchdown passes, there would be no Bearcats comeback.
Switzer turned in another big special teams play in the third quarter when he fielded a punt at his own 14 exploded up the field for an 86-yard TD after several Bearcats overran the punt.
"I sold it," Switzer said. "When I caught it they just kind of stood there and I was able to take it and run."
The Bearcats reached the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown run by Ralph David Abernathy, but the Tar Heels answered with a methodical 13-play, 65-yard drive, with Morris scoring his second touchdown on a 1-yard plunge to make it 36-10.
Fedora said he's excited about North Carolina's future as the school looks to put the memory of NCAA sanctions behind them for good.
"We are going in the right direction," Fedora said. "There is a tremendous positive buzz about the Tar Heels in the state of North Carolina."
Kay said it was an emotional way to end his career at Cincinnati.
"This is not the way (the seniors) wanted to go out, by any means," Kay said. "It's tough. We've been through a lot this year -- coaching changes, losing a teammate (in a deadly car accident), other ups and downs -- but I wouldn't want to go to war with anybody else but this team, these seniors."
HOUSTON -- Terrel Hunt scrambled 12 yards for a touchdown with 1:14 remaining to lift Syracuse to a 21-17 victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl.
Brisly Estime set up Hunt's touchdown with a 70-yard punt return.
Syracuse (7-6) led 14-3 entering the fourth quarter before Mitch Leidner threw two touchdown passes and a 2-point conversion to put the Golden Gophers up 17-14.
After the Orange regained the lead, Minnesota attempted two long passes to the end zone on the final plays. The first slipped through the arms of Drew Wolitarsky and the final one as time expired was knocked down near the end zone.
Minnesota (8-5) got a boost to start the second half when coach Jerry Kill returned to the sideline for the first time since Sept. 28 before Syracuse rallied for the victory.
Kill began game in press box, where he has observed his team since returning from a leave of absence because of his epilepsy. Kill has had five seizures on game day in his two-plus seasons with the Golden Gophers. He took the leave of absence in October and returned a couple of weeks later.
Hunt finished with 188 yards passing and 74 rushing with two scores.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Rakeem Cato threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns, and Marshall used two fourth-quarter scores to rally past Maryland in the Military Bowl.
The Thundering Herd (10-4) trailed 20-17 before Cato brought them back. After directing a 63-yard march to put Marshall up 24-20 with 12:05 left, Cato clinched it with an 8-yard touchdown throw to Gator Hoskins with 3:42 to play. Cato completed 28 of 44 passes -- with no interceptions -- to help Marshall reach double digits in wins for the first time since 2002.
Maryland (7-6) scored only one touchdown after halftime, and A.J. Leggett followed Cato's final TD pass with an interception to set off a celebration among the huge gathering of Marshall fans among the crowd of 30,163. Brandon Ross rushed for 116 yards for Maryland, and C.J. Brown went 14 for 24 for 197 yards.
Making its first bowl appearance under third-year coach Randy Edsall, Maryland closed out its association with the Atlantic Coast Conference by falling to the runner-up in Conference USA. The Terrapins will join the Big Ten next year.
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bishop Sankey ran for 95 yards and two scores to tie Washington's career touchdown record and the Huskies went on to beat BYU 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Keith Price added a 16-yard TD pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and John Ross returned a kick 100 yards for another score to help the Huskies (9-4) win their most games since going 11-1 and winning the Rose Bowl in 2000.
Taysom Hill threw for 293 yards and ran for 133 yards and a score for the Cougars (8-5), who had their four-game bowl winning streak snapped. Justin Sorensen kicked three field goals but also missed one in the third quarter after an interception by Robertson Daniel gave BYU prime field position.
The game capped a whirlwind month for the Huskies that began with coach Steve Sarkisian leaving for the same job at Southern California. Chris Petersen was hired away from Boise State to take over at Washington and quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo coached the bowl game on an interim basis. The Huskies won just their second bowl game since Tuiasosopo led them to that Rose Bowl win over Purdue 13 years ago.