Cincinnati Football Predictions

The Cincinnati Bearcats finished up a respectable 9-4 in the first year under head coach Tommy Tuberville, but the season ended with a disappointing 17-39 blowout loss to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl. Their 6-2 record in the American Athletic was good enough for 3rd behind UCF and Houston.

It’s been impressive what Cincinnati has been able to do over the last 7 years while undergoing 3 coaching changes, which began with Brian Kelly back in 2007. The Bearcats have won at least 9 games in 6 of the 7 seasons and have an overall record of 66-25.

Looking ahead to 2014, there’s plenty of reason to believe that the Bearcats will be able to reach the 9-win mark once again. While Cincinnati loses starting quarterback Brandon Kay and gets back just 13 starters, they only lost 19 lettermen from last year’s team. It’s also worth noting that they didn’t have any players drafted, so there’s no reason given their recent success to believe they won’t be able to find suitable replacements for the starters that were lost.

Last Season
American Athletic
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 Cincinnati Bearcats Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/12 Toledo
9/20 Miami, OH
9/27 @ Ohio State
10/4 Memphis
10/11 @ Miami, FL
10/18 @ SMU
10/24 USF
10/31 @ Tulane
11/13 East Carolina
11/22 @ Connecticut
11/29 @ Temple
12/6 Houston
Estimated Wins: 8.32

Typically losing a starting quarterback who put up as strong as numbers as Kay (3,302 yards, 22 touchdowns) would lead you to believe a team is headed for a decline, but the Bearcats could actually be better at the position if sophomore Gunner Kiel lives up the hype. Kiel was the No. 1 ranked high school quarterback a couple years back, who originally committed to Notre Dame before transferring to Cincinnati.

Another thing that has me thinking the offense could see some improvement is the Bearcats posted a high 14.7 yards per point on offense. While that’s right around the national average last year of 14.6, it wasn’t up to Cincinnati’s standards. In fact it was their highest mark since posting a 15.4 ypp in 2010. Why is that important? The next season they came back with a 11.6 ypp, which resulted in an increase in scoring from 27.1 ppg to 33.3 ppg.

One of the impressive things from Cincinnati’s 9-win season was the fact that they did so with a -7 turnover margin. Considering they have 6 of their top 9 tacklers and posted a +12 turnover margin in 2011 and were +9 in 2012, there’s a good chance the Bearcats will see an increase in turnovers going in their favor in 2014.

The last thing to look at is the schedule. Before we get into this year’s, it’s important to note that the Bearcats benefited in 2013 from one of the easiest schedules in the country. Not a single one of their first 10 opponents finished the season with a winning record and Cincinnati lost two of those of those contests.

While the schedule will provide a bigger challenge this year, that’s only because they face the likes of Ohio State and Miami, FL in non-conference play. Their AAC schedule is actually easier with the conference losing Louisville and Rutgers. Cincinnati also avoids having to play defending champs UCF and get the two other threats to win the AAC in Houston and East Carolina at home.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Bearcats will be playing their home games this season at Paul Brown Stadium (home of Cincinnati Bengals) while Nippert Stadium is being renovated. It’s going to be interesting to see if that has a negative impact on their home dominance, as the Bearcats have compiled a 48-13 home record over the last 10 years.

Regular Season Win Total
AAC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
2 to 1
250 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

I know a lot of Cincinnati’s success this season rests on the shoulders of Kiel and how he performs at the quarterback position, but I’m confident he’s going to be up to the task. Kiel threw for 300 yards in the Bearcats’ spring game and did so while only playing the 1st half. The main reason I’m confident with Kiel stepping in and putting up big numbers, is the AAC is not a very strong conference and I don’t see UCF repeating after losing star quarterback Blake Bortles. I do think they will get a run for their money from a talented Houston squad, but I’m giving Cincinnati the edge due to the fact that they get to host the Cougars.

Not only do I have the Bearcats winning the AAC, but I have them doing so with a perfect 8-0 record. They should be able to split their 4 non-conference games with home games against Toledo and Miami, OH to offset the two showdowns against BCS powers, which will have them ending the year at 10-2. Considering oddsmakers have set Cincinnati’s win total at just 8.5, I highly recommend a play on the OVER.

My initial thought is that the Bearcats will be a solid team to back against the spread, but you will likely need to pick your spots due to the fact that Cincinnati will be laying double-digit in the majority of their games. One thing to keep an eye on is how their homefield edge translates over to Paul Brown Stadium. It might not be a bad idea to fade the Bearcats at home, as the books likely won’t adjust for the different venue.

2014 Projections
American Athletic
American Athletic Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 8.5
More College Football Predictions
AAC East
East Carolina
South Florida
AAC West