As we have now reached February, we inch nearer and nearer to spring football. The American Athletic has released the 2019 football schedule. Cincinnati’s schedule features key games at home and on the road. The toughest stretch for the Bearcats comes early on in September and October, but the last 3 games of the year will be very interesting.
9/7: @ Ohio State
9/14: Miami (OH)
9/28: @ Marshall
10/4: UCF (Friday Night)
10/12: @ Houston
11/2: @ East Carolina
11/16: @ USF
11/29: @ Memphis (Friday Night)
12/7: AAC Championship
Non Conference Play
The start of 2019 is one of the toughest sets of six games I have seen. UCLA was a good road win last year, and all Power 5 teams are tough to beat, no matter who it may be.
In Columbus vs Ohio State merely speaks for itself; they’re one of the best teams in the country. Hopefully there is a lot of fire in this game, as Fickell makes his return to The Horseshoe, and potentially sparks a little in-state rivalry.
With Miami being a rivalry of course (those are always hard fought), that game is no walk-through. I also believe the RedHawks have MAC title potential, and they will be a solid team in 2019.
Going to Marshall, a program with a 12-2 bowl record and winners of their last seven, the Thundering Herd is a great non-conference matchup. An intriguing battle in Huntington, West Virginia, and a good test early on.
Biggest AAC game, and the conference opener, UCF… Friday night in Nippert. Last year was not a pleasant performance on College Gameday, and this one will be yet another great challenge for UC. This is seemingly the biggest game of the AAC season, and may decide the AAC East.
The trip to H-Town will be interesting. On paper, Houston seems to be the West favorite, with returning QB D’eriq King and the hiring of Dana Holgerson. The Cougars will have a high flying offense, but will they play defense is the question for 2019.
Tulsa has been struggling these past 2 seasons to say the least. 5 total wins, and a whole lot of losses. This should be on the easier side of all the games for UC, but coming out of that stretch, anything can happen.
On the road vs East Carolina is next up for the Bearcats. The Pirates had a solid offseason, hiring Mike Houston from FCS power James Madison, leading to a top five class in the AAC. However, they will likely be undergoing a “transition time period,” making them a team to watch out for in the future, but not so much in 2019.
When UConn comes to town, do not expect much of a game. This one should be over by halftime. This is football, and even if it was basketball, the Bearcats would still beat them. It isn’t the 2000s anymore.
In not-so-South Florida (more so East), the Bulls are a confusing team. They started 7-0 and finished 7-6. A tough time in the QB room was the heart of this, but they also had a tough stretch. I don’t believe Charlie Strong to be the coach some say he is, but he does a solid job. Last year was fun for UC fans, and I expect the same to hold true.
Revenge game (part 2) vs Temple will likely be full of emotion. The guys will have something to play for after the heartbreaking loss in Philadelphia last season. That one still hurts, even though Cincy would still not play for the AAC title with a win in Philly.
The season finale comes on a Friday night in the Music City. Memphis has a high scoring offense year in and year out, but lose key guys like Darrell Henderson, who was second in the nation in rushing yards. The UC defense needs to play disciplined to win this one.
- Cincinnati’s 2019 opponents went 81-65 in 2018
- 8 of the Bearcats finished with a 50+ percent winning rate
- 7 opponents went bowling last season (2-5 record)
- 2 teams are ranked in ESPNs “Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2019” (UCF, Ohio St.)
- 3 of UC’s 2019 opponents won their division in 2018
- 3 teams were in the AP Poll at some point in 2018 (USF, UCF, Ohio St.)
There is so much potential for a great team in 2019. Fickell can get marquee wins against Ohio State, UCF, and UCLA. The Bearcats have a great shot at winning the AAC East, and ultimately the American title game. If the Bearcats are able to run the table, including a win in Columbus and vs UCF, they may find themselves in the College Football Playoff.
I believe this team will finish 11-1, only losing to Ohio State. With this record, UC would host the conference championship game against the West champion, in which I believe will be Tulane. The Bearcats could go 8-4 or 11-1, and it all depends on what team shows up early on, building momentum into the next week.