Almost all the experts had the Cincinnati Bearcats winning the AAC East last year. Several of which also had them pegged to take the conference title.
Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned. The Bearcats finished the regular season just 7-5 and fell to 7-6 with a 7-42 loss to San Diego State in the bowl game.
The inability to live up to the hype last year, may prove to be a blessing in 2016. Cincinnati is flying way under the radar going into the 2016 season.
Keep in mind that the Bearcats have won or shared either the Big East or ACC title 5 times in the last 8 years. They will in their 4th season under head coach Tommy Tuberville and will have 13 starters back.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Cincinnati swept their 4 non-conference games. They get UT Martin, Miami (OH) and BYU at home. Note they have won 28 straight at home against non-conference opponents. The lone road contest is against Big Ten bottom feeder Purdue.
The Bearcats will have a good idea of where they stand in the AAC very early. Their first two conference games are at home against Houston and USF. Two of the favorites to win the American this year.
After a road contest at UConn and home game against ECU, they get their toughest road test at Temple. They close out with two on the road versus UCF and Tulsa and another big home games against Memphis.
Cincinnati has been a consistent force on the offensive side of the ball the last 5 years. Averaging over 32.0 ppg in each season. Even with a switch to a more pro-style attack in 2016, all signs point to another potent attack.
A lot of teams struggle to find one capable quarterback. Cincinnati has two of them in senior Gunner Kiel and sophomore Hayden Moore. Though Kiel is the better of the two and figures to be the starter to open the season.
Having an experienced signal caller like Kiel will be huge. That’s because the Bearcats lost basically their entire receiving corps from last year. Each of their top 6 options in the passing game all departed. They are counting on a couple of sophomore transfers to fill the void. Jamil Kamara comes over from Virginia and Avery Peterson joins from LSU.
The good news is the offense should be able to rely on the running game early and often. The Bearcats have two capable options in the backfield in Mike Boone and Tion Green. The two combined for 1,478 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.
The offensive line loses two starters, but get back their top two players. Those being senior center Deyshawn Bond and senior guard Ryan Leahy.
One of the reasons Cincinnati failed to live up to the hype last year, was the play of their defense. The Bearcats surrendered 31.2 ppg and 409 ypg. The good news is that with 8 starters back, big improvements should be on the way in 2016.
Cincinnati’s does lose a big time talent on the defensive line in end Silverberry Mouhon. He led the team with 4.5 sacks and was a 1st-Team All-AAC performer. However, he’s the only significant loss up front. He’ll be replaced by younger brother Kevin Mouhon, who was rated much higher out of high school.
At linebacker, the Bearcats get back their star in senior Eric Wilson. He led the team last year with 106 tackles and is one of the best at his position in the AAC. They also return promising sophomore middle linebacker Bryce Jenkinson. He was 3rd on the team with 59 tackles as a true freshman.
Cincinnati will also send out an experienced secondary. Something they haven’t had in Tuberville’s first three years on the job. The unit is led by senior safety Zach Edwards. They are also excited about a couple of promising sophomores in corner J.J. Pinckney and safety Tyrell Gilbert.
Regular Season Win Total
AAC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
I think oddsmakers have made a huge mistake here only setting the Bearcats win total at 7.5. Not only do I think they beat that mark, but I have them flying past their total. I’m calling for Cincinnati to go 7-1 in the American and 11-1 overall.
I also have USF going 7-1 in league play, but I have the Bearcats winning the head-to-head matchup. For me comes down to the talent at quarterback, improved defense and the schedule.
It’s extremely difficult to go into Nippert Stadium and get a win. That’s why it’s so huge they get Houston, USF and Memphis all at home. Add in a very easy road slate and an undefeated season isn’t out of the question. Keep in mind that despite their 4-4 record last year they were +167.4 ypg in league play. The best of any team in the conference. The next closest was Memphis at +73 ypg.
American Athletic (East)
American Athletic Record
Win Total Prediction