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Cincinnati Bearcats

College Football

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Cincinnati fell apart in 2016 and welcome a new coach in Luke Fickell to try and help turn things around. This is Fickell’s second stint as a full-time head coach after being Ohio State’s interim head coach back in 2011 and then becoming defensive coordinator when Urban Meyer took over. The Bearcats have hopes of a bowl, but return just nine starters from a four-win team and are still without a hands down starter at quarterback.

Hayden Moore (11 TDs, 7 INTs) took most of the reps last season with Ross Trail (1 TD, 6 INTs) getting time as well, but as seen in the numbers, neither won the job. The Bearcats fell apart last season en route to just 19.3 points per game. It’s likely they’ll try and run a bit more, but with three new offensive linemen in the middle, it won’t be easy. Mike Boone (388 yards) will hope to get back to 2015 levels after battling a toe injury last season. If they can get any ground game going, that would take a ton of pressure off the quarterback. The top two receivers return so that should help a bit with Devin Gray (860 yards, 5 TDs) and Kahlil Lewis (605 yards, 5 TDs) the names to know.

Defensively, Cincinnati never really had a great group under Tommy Tuberville and it’s hard to see them taking a huge jump under Marcus Freeman, who has been the Purdue linebackers coach the last few seasons. The Bearcats will need all the help they can get with a hole or two at every level. Kevin Mouhon will try and build on his 9.5 tackles for loss alongside Cortez Broughton. Most of the defense is upperclassmen, but not many have full-time starting experience. That includes senior linebacker Jaylyin Minor, who impressed in spring practices. With a tough opening schedule, this unit will need to figure things out quickly.

After the easy opener, Cincy has three straight road games with Michigan and Navy being the biggest problems. Even a trip to Miami (OH) isn’t a guaranteed win as they beat the Redhawks by only a touchdown at home last year. The Bearcats have a favorable enough schedule to win all of their AAC games at home, but that could be asking a lot after how this offense looked last year. To get to six wins, it’ll likely mean Cincy has to win all of those with UCF and Temple being the hardest tasks, while trips to Tulane and East Carolina also needing to be wins.

There is a chance Fickell reaches six wins and a bowl game in his first season, but that’s a big ask as their quarterback has to be decided and their ground game needs to comes around. The defense was mediocre last year and can’t win by itself. The range of outcomes for this team is large, but a bowl berth isn’t a bad place to start.


2017 Cincinnati Bearcats Football Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. Austin Peay
Sept. 9 at Michigan
Sept. 16 at Miami (OH)
Sept. 23 at Navy

Sept. 30 vs. Marshall
Oct. 7 vs. UCF
Oct. 21 vs. SMU

Oct. 28 at South Florida
Nov. 4 at Tulane
Nov. 10 vs. Temple
Nov. 18 at East Carolina
Nov. 25 vs. Connecticut

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