In just over two weeks the University of Cincinnati Bearcats football team gets to play its first game at the renovated Nippert Stadium, and beat the crap out of Alabama A&M. I was hoping to type out the school’s team name. However, I have no clue. According to Wikipedia, they are the Bulldogs. Now it’s time to take a way too early look at the UC football schedule this year.
UC is heavily favored to win the AAC East Division, and go on to win the AAC championship game against the predicted team of Memphis. However, let’s break down each game this season a little more, shall we?
• September 5th – Alabama A&M: This will be a great chance for Gunner and his crew to dust off the in-game rust and face some different players after wrapping up 15 practices at Camp Higher Ground. The three-headed monster at running back of Boone, Green, and Williams should also get plenty of carries. Hayden Moore should even get to play in the 3rd and 4th quarters. This will be an easy W, and we will not have a clue what to expect from UC after Week 1. UC wins 56-14.
• September 12th – Temple: In week 2 the Cats face their first AAC competition at home. Temple is expected to have the best defensive line and linebacker corps. in the American, and will be able to heavily pressure Gunner. Temple even returns all 11 starters on defense. QB P.J. Walker is expected to be better, but for his career has 33 TDs compared to 23 picks, and loves to turn the ball over. The Owls are expected to finish 2nd in the East. Gunner, the receivers, and the stable of backs will just be too much for Temple to keep up. UC wins 31-14.
• September 19th – @ Miami (OH): Despite the travel up to Miami, Ohio, the Victory Bell will remain intact in Clifton. The RedHawks haven’t won this battle since 2005, and will not win this one either. UC wins 42-17.
• September 24th – @ Memphis: Memphis came out of nowhere last year and flat-out spanked the Cats at Paul Brown Stadium. Something I have tried to forget. This year UC knows it will be in for a heck of a game, and UC will want revenge for having to share the AAC championship with the Tigers last season. Paxton Lynch is a very effective QB. Justin Fuente is an up-and-coming coach. However, Memphis only returns 4 starters on defense. UC is the first AAC game on Memphis’ schedule. This is a huge AAC game, and could be the first of two matchups this season if Memphis and UC win the East and West. Playing this game outside of Nippert doesn’t help matters. However, Tubs’ squad is experienced this year and will know how to play games on the road. This will be a tough one, but UC should escape. UC wins 28-21.
• October 1st – Miami (FL): The Hurricanes travel to Cincinnati after man-handling the Bearcats last year in Florida. Miami is the most talented team UC will face in the regular season. But for whatever reason Al Golden has not been able to challenge all of this speed and talent into wins, which is why he is on the hot seat. The Canes will be able to put up plenty of points even without Duke Johnson. However, the home crowd on a Thursday night under the lights will be way too much. Having a talented big-name team come to town like Miami will bring out the best in the 12th man. Gunner will find a way to win this one. UC wins 35-31.
• October 16th – @ BYU: UC will stub its toe somewhere down the line. Traveling 1,700 miles to Provo, Utah, and playing on a Friday night in unfamiliar territory will do the trick. BYU is traditionally a very strong, well-coached team. UC will be well-rested, having a bye and a total of 15 days off since playing the U. Interestingly, BYU will have played UCONN and ECU in the two weeks leading up to this game. This game reminds me of UC traveling to Fresno State under Butch Jones. BYU wins 28-14.
• October 24th – UCONN: UC will not lose to a team whose head coach makes up rivalry trophies in the offseason. Bob Diaco was the former UC defensive coordinator under Brian Kelly, and has just been stuck at UCONN. He has not been able to recruit well or turn his schemes into W’s in Storrs. Bryant Shirreffs is also ranked as the American’s worst QB. UC wins 49-14.
• October 31st – UCF: The Knights are always talented, and have won at least a share of the AAC the last two years. George O’Leary coaches them up. UCF returns just 6 starts on offense and 4 on D. Gunner and Co. will put up too many points in this one. UCF will also be playing a grueling 9-week stretch concluding with the Cats. UC wins 35-21.
• November 7th – @ Houston: Tom Herman, an exceptional offensive mind under Urban Meyer at OSU, is the new head ball coach. He is taking over an 8-5 team that has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Greg Ward Jr. is a good QB. Year 1 of any head coaching transition is tough for every coach. Just ask Butch Jones. UC wins 42-21.
• November 14th – Tulsa: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane returns all 11 starters on offense. This team went just 2-10 last year. Tulsa football is just in a bad place right now. Their talented basketball team might be able to beat them in a 7-on-7 scrimmage on turf. This game is also back at the Nippert in colder weather. UC wins 49-14.
• November 20th – @ USF: South Florida returns half of their starters on offense and defense. The Bulls were 4-8 last year, and did not go to a bowl. USF has a history of ruining UC football seasons in strange ways, whether blocking field goals or otherwise. Not this year. Quinton Flowers is also projected to be one of the league’s worst QBs. UC wins 35-10.
• November 28th – @ ECU: UC closes out the regular seasons with a 7-game stretch of back-to-back games ending on the road with ECU. UC somehow managed to steal this game against the Pirates last year 54-36 behind the golden toe of Andrew Gantz. ECU will want revenge. Without their tag-team of Shane Carden and Justin Hardy they won’t get it. The Pirates have also had to name a new offensive coordinator for 2015. UC wins 35-17.
Ultimately, we think UC will finish the regular season at 11-1, win the East, and win the first AAC championship game against Memphis. This will place UC in the running for a major bowl game and project the Bearcats into a ranking in the top-15 in December.
Now who’s ready to actually play some football?
By Andy Smith