Bearcats Scratch Way Into National Title Picture

Bearcats With NCAA Logo Background

  • Cincinnati faces long odds for national championship
  • UCF remembers Bearcats’ plight
  • Cincy is overwhelming AAC favorite

The Cincinnati Bearcats are the latest Group of Five flavor that will probably finish No. 5 in the nation at year’s end, be locked out of the BCS National Championship then hear the obligatory corporate banter from from BCS executive director Bill Hancock discussing what a great season they had and how deserving they are.

Exit stage right.

It feels like the late Bob Barker on “The Price is Right” showing the losing contestant the stairs to exit the stage. The Group of Five and the American Athletic Conference, in particular, are far too familiar with this scenario.

As the Bearcats go through pre-season practice, there is a swagger and a belief that they will break the impossible BCS code as the first contestant from the Group of Five.

After coming out as the AP’s No. 8 team, Cincinnati is (+8000) to win the national championship as the Bearcats find 17 teams in front of them with better odds as Alabama (+260) and Clemson (+400) once again lead the field in college football’s stale national championship race.

AAC Favorites

As expected, Cincinnati picked up 22 of 24 first place votes to win the AAC as the Bearcats are set at (-200) to win the American Athletic Conference title. UCF (+400) and Tulsa and Memphis both at (+900) are the closest challengers.

Prop Up the ‘Cats

Quarterback Desmond Ridder is one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks and he accounted for 31 of the Bearcats’ 49 touchdowns and that is a major reason why Ridder is on the board in the Heisman Trophy race with his odds sitting at (+5000).

A defense that was 13th in the nation (324 yards) and also 13th against the run (111) yards might be the primary reason why the Bearcats are at the head of the list as online sportsbooks have set the OVER/UNDER on wins at 10 (-110).

The only game where they’re close to an underdog is on Oct. 2 when the play at Notre Dame.

New Blood

Until we get ensconced in the 12-team playoff that spells inclusion, the BCS has often paid too much attention to brands rather than qualities products. It’s all about TV ratings and advertising dollars instead of competition which would accentuate the entire product of college football.

Last season the Bearcats finished 9-1 and won the AAC with (+150000) odds to win the 2020 national championship and (+400) odds to win the American.

They were 9-0 with two cancellations due to COVID-19 and led Georgia for almost the entirety of the Chik Fil-a Bowl in Atlanta before a couple of late turnovers and a stagnant fourth quarter offense had more to do with the 24-21 loss than did the Bulldogs.

The Bearcats were a 6-point underdog vs. Georgia in the Bulldogs’ back yard and covered the spread.

UCF Knows the Cincy Scenario Too Well

Every season in the Group of 5, there is a host of teams who could potentially vie a national championship and it makes the national selection committee ahem even more egg on it’s face as it did last season when the Bearcats finished 9-0 while Notre Dame fell to 10-1 after losing to Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

We have to harken back to 2017 and 2018 when the UCF Knights won 25 games in a row and were verbally campaigning for a berth in the four-team playoff.

The Knights did everything there were supposed to do to put themselves in position to play for a national title in winning the AAC titles in high-scoring fashion in both wins over Memphis.

UCF was vastly underrated at No. 7 in the AP poll.
They went into the 2018 Chik FIl a Bowl against Auburn as a solid underdog at (+9) after going 12-0 in 2017 and winning a 62-55 classic vs. Memphis in the AAC title game. UCF not only covered but won outright, 34-27.

It similar for the 2019 when UCF’s winning streak finally ended in the Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU. The Knights were at a (+6), but the Tigers were able to cover in the 40-32 win.

Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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