CINCINNATI, OH – They say that there’s no place like home. In the case of the third-ranked 12-0 Cincinnati Bearcats, that proverb has extra meaning.
Cincinnati, currently ranked No.3 in the CFP rankings has a chance to become the first-ever Non Power Five program to advance to the college football semifinals with a win over the 21st-ranked Houston Cougars in their home stadium, the venerable Nipper Stadium.
Unlike other conferences, the AAC does not have a neutral site, and awards the team with the best record the conference title game in their stadium.
In what has been a special season down on the banks of the Ohio River, you have the Cincinnati bengals and Joe Burrow second in the rugged AFC North, and one of the NFL’s top surprises, and uptown, you have the Bearcats writing their own Hollywood-worthy story.
A road win in South Bend over Notre Dame, followed by close wins over Tulsa have kept fan enthusiasm at an even keel, but with each win, the undefeated Bearcats have grudgingly forced themselves into the CFP conversation.
Some may question their conference, some may question whom they’ve played—and beaten—but the bottom line is that UC sits on the precipice of being the highst-ranked non P5 program to crash the exclusive VIP party reserved for the bluebloods from the SEC, B1G, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC.
It’s kinda funny that the soon-to-be Big 12 bound-Bearcats—with a win—could shut the door on a team from their future conference.
Led by the steady hand of 6’4 215-pound senior quarterback Desmond Ridder and his 3,000 yards passing, 27 touchdowns on the ground along with another 342 yards rushing on 93 carries for six TD’s on the ground, the Bearcats have an experienced signal-caller capable of keeping the Cougars aggressive defense honest and at bay.
In addition to Riddler on the ground, Cincinnati has one of the top rushers in the country in junior running back Jerome Ford, who has rushed for 1,055 yards and 17 yards. An average of 5.8 yards per carry.
And lastly on the outside, UC has the underrated and reliable 6’3 213 senior wide receiver, Alec Pierce who has been Ridder’s go-to man in catch 48 passes for 802 yards and seven TD’s for an average of 16.7
Words cannot understate the leadership and job that head coach Luke Fickell has done in bringing the Bearcats football program to it’s highest peak ever. At a still young age of 48, the Columbus, OH-born native and former Ohio State defensive nose guard and head coach has complied a record of 53-21 and been named AAC Coach of the Year three times.
In what could be the school’s biggest win in program history, look for the Bearcats to close the deal at Nippert and advance to their first ever College Football Playoff.