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 2018

Cincinnati

College Football

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Luke Fickell’s first season at Cincinnati can be considered a disappointment, finishing at just 4-8 with two AAC wins. The Bearcats struggled on both sides of the ball, and maybe more so on the offensive end where they barely averaged 20 points per game. Something will have to change if Cincy wants to make a bowl this year. The odds don’t expect them to with an over/under of five wins and +5500 to win the AAC at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

At the least, Cincy returns Hayden Moore for his senior season at quarterback. He’s been extremely inconsistent since joining the Bearcats, but at least managed a full year in 2017, going for 20 touchdowns and nine picks. The issue was his 6.04 yards per attempt, a career worst. While he gets back top wide out Kahlil Lewis (676 yards, 7 TDs), the line lost three starters and may have to start a freshman at center. After averaging 4.4 yards per carry as a team, that number could dip with questions along the line even though Gerrid Doaks (513 yards) is still in the backfield with playmaker Michael Warren (6.0 yards per carry). Cincy would’ve taken a jump with an experienced line, but with only two seniors up front, that could be a problem early. 

The defense should be in a slightly better situation, similar to last year. Seven starters return with a lot of them being seniors, namely Marquise Copeland and Cortez Broughton along the line. Those two have shown potential the last couple years, but the consistency is lacking. If those two can stop the run and help take attention away from the ends, the Bearcats could be in business. Otherwise, linebacker Perry Young (101 tackles) is set for another big season. Cornerback could be the biggest issue with two sophomores expected to start, although there should be help from two senior safeties. This group gave up 32 points per game last year and it didn’t improve throughout the year as seen in the late 48-20 loss to ECU.

To have a chance at a bowl Cincinnati has to win at Miami (OH) again, as well as against Ohio a couple weeks after that. That could lead to three non-conference wins with favorable AAC home games against Tulane and East Carolina. That’s five wins from those games so if you’re thinking of taking the over, it’s at least hard to see the under hitting. Moore has tons of experience under center and should be better with Lewis still around to throw to. The problem is if the offensive line regresses and the defense doesn’t improve. Playing the AAC, there are numerous spots to grab upsets, especially against a team like USF in somewhat of a transition with a new quarterback.

 

2018 Cincinnati Bearcats Football Schedule

Sept. 1 at UCLA

Sept. 8 at Miami (OH)

Sept. 15 vs. Alabama A&M

Sept. 22 vs. Ohio

Sept. 29 at Connecticut

Oct. 6 vs. Tulane

Oct. 20 at Temple

Oct. 27 at SMU

Nov. 3 vs. Navy

Nov. 10 vs. South Florida

Nov. 17 at UCF

Nov. 23 vs. East Carolina

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