On Tuesday, the AAC released the schedules for the 2016 football season. Each of the 12 AAC teams will again play eight conference games this season, facing the other five teams in its own division, as well as three teams from the other division. The current schedule rotation means that each team’s conference opponents are unchanged from 2015 to 2016, while each conference game will be hosted by the team that was the visiting team in 2015. Cincinnati’s schedule is noted below.
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION
Sept. 1 UT-MARTIN Nippert Stadium
Sept. 10 at Purdue West Lafayette, Ind.
Sept. 15 HOUSTON (ESPN) Nippert Stadium
Sept. 24 MIAMI (Ohio) Nippert Stadium
Oct. 1 USF Nippert Stadium
Oct. 8 at UConn East Hartford, Conn.
Oct. 22 EAST CAROLINA Nippert Stadium
Oct. 29 at Temple * Philadelphia, Pa.
Nov. 5 BYU Nippert Stadium
Nov. 12 at UCF Orlando, Fla.
Nov. 18 MEMPHIS (CBS SN) Nippert Stadium
Nov. 25 at Tulsa (ESPN Family)
UC will have seven homes games at Nippert Stadium. The bye week will come six weeks into the season, which serves as a nice break compared to the 2014 season placing the bye in the beginning. Once again, UC will not face Navy (thankfully).
UC will play four weeknight games, which is good and bad. Playing on a weeknight will give the Bearcats everyone’s attention and potential national television slots. On the other hand, it gives the impression “we weren’t good enough” to make a Saturday slot. The weeknight games this year include the opener on a Thursday against UT Martin; a primetime matchup on a Thursday against AAC champs Houston; a Friday night matchup against Memphis; and the final game against Tulsa on the day after Thanksgiving.
The Bearcats face Houston at home early in September. This is the first conference game, and much like the Temple game last year, will go a long way in determining the AAC champion. I don’t think anyone will argue how loaded Houston will be entering next season – they are a sure fire pick to win the conference and battle for a New Year’s Day bowl game.
The trip to Purdue will also be fun. This will allow the fans to travel to a Big 10 school, just 180 miles away from Clifton. We will be sure to make the trip and partake in the famous “Breakfast Club” pregame event. Purdue students dress up in costumes and hit the bars early before heading to the game. Let’s face it, they don’t have a lot to cheer about on the field.
The marquee game of the year will take place against BYU on November 5th at Nippert. After experiencing the Miami Hurricanes coming to town last year, we cannot wait to feel the electric atmosphere once against when a big name opponent comes to campus.
Overall, this is a much more favorable schedule compared to last year. We get Houston and Memphis at home. Looking back at last year, you have to think both of the close losses to Houston and Memphis on the road may have gone differently with a “home court” advantage. Likewise, BYU will get to face cold Ohio temperatures, as opposed to a fourth quarter meltdown up in the mountains of Utah.
2016 really does not present any difficult clumps of games either. Nor do we ever play more than one road game at a time. At first glance, the toughest part seems to be playing at Purdue, home against Houston, and home against Miami (OH). There will be three games in 14 days, and Houston is just five days after traveling to Purdue.
UConn always plays UC tough in Connecticut, and Temple on the road will certainly present a challenge – just ask Notre Dame. However, overall the bye week and week-in and week-out slate lines up great. My only true complaint is pitting Houston as the first conference game of the year. This does not allow the Bearcats a chance to “feel out” a lesser conference foe. But this will also be the Cougars first AAC game after playing Oklahoma and Lamar. Spun another way, maybe this is favorable for the Bearcats since Houston will be favored, but certainly not a well-oiled machine by week three of the season.
Stay tuned for our way too early season predictions and much more news on the football front!
By Andy Smith