Travis Kelce posted an 83-yard touchdown reception and Nick Temple added a 55-yard interception return -- both in the final minute of regulation -- as Cincinnati rallied to down Duke, 48-34, in the Belk Bowl.
Brendon Kay finished with 332 yards passing and a bowl-record four TDs on 17-of-25 efficiency for the Bearcats (10-3), who finished the season with three straight victories.
Kelce ended up with 123 yards on five catches, Anthony McClung added 110 yards and another score on three grabs, while George Winn paced the ground attack with 130 yards and a 46-yard TD run on 16 carries.
Sean Renfree was 37-of-49 for 358 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Blue Devils (6-7), who were poised to post their first bowl win in more than five decades but fell short in shocking fashion.
Connor Vernon struck for 119 yards and one score on 10 receptions, David Reeves posted a TD catch, and Josh Snead totaled 107 yards on 17 carries but produced a costly fumble in defeat.
Brandon Connette threw for a score and also rushed for one, but it wasn't enough in Duke's first bowl appearance since 1995.
Blue Devils freshman kicker Ross Martin made a 52-yarder with 7:24 on the clock for a tie contest, and though Cincinnati failed on its ensuing drive, the Bearcats defense came up huge in the final moments.
Duke reached the Cincinnati 5-yard line, but Snead coughed up the ball while trying to break free up the middle on 2nd-and-goal, and John Williams recovered for Cincinnati with 1:20 to play.
Four plays later, on a 1st-and-10 from the Cincinnati 17-yard line, Kay found Kelce in the secondary and he raced untouched the rest of the way for an 83-yard touchdown and 41-34 game with 44 ticks left.
Duke then took over on its own 32. Following a roughing-the-passer call which advanced the ball to the Cincy 40, Renfree was drilled by Maalik Bomar as he threw. The ball fell into Temple's hands and he outraced several pursuers for the insurance score.
Connette's 5-yard scamper capped the opening possession, a 79-yard march. Martin's extra point was blocked, and though the alert kicker recovered and tried for the pylon on the right side, he was ruled down just short.
Martin added a 33-yard field goal to cap Duke's next touch, then it was a 16-0 game for the Blue Devils after Tony Foster blocked a punt and fell on it in the end zone.
Tony Miliano's 45-yard attempt got Cincinnati on the board late in the first, and the Bearcats pulled within 16-10 after a 26-yard connection from Kay to McClung with just over four minutes left in the second period.
Cincy then went ahead by a point with 42 seconds left in the half as Kay lofted a ball down the left side for Ralph David Abernathy IV, who came down with it in coverage and dove across the goal line for a 41-yard score.
Aided by a 55-yard catch-and-run by McClung and a personal foul penalty, the Bearcats went up 20-16 early in the third quarter on a Miliano 27-yard make. Renfree was picked off five plays later, and Cincinnati took a 27-16 lead after a 46-yard run to paydirt by Winn.
Vernon's 10-yard catch from Renfree pulled Duke within five and a conversion pass to Issac Blakeney made it 27-24 with three minutes left in the third.
Connette's 2-yard pass to Reeves pushed the Blue Devils ahead 31-27 with 12:45 left in regulation, but Cincy struck back on the next series as Kay found Chris Moore for a 25-yard score.
Cincinnati reached the 10-win plateau for the second straight season and fifth in the last six ... The Bearcats have won two straight bowl games, after a 31-24 decision against Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, 2011 ... The Atlantic Coast Conference fell to 6-5 all-time in this bowl, which has been contested every year since 2002 in Charlotte ... Duke hadn't seen postseason action since Jan. 2, 1995, when it lost to Wisconsin by a 34-20 count in the Outback Bowl ... The schools combined for 1,114 yards of total offense, 560 of those by Duke.