2018 Cincinnati Bearcats Season Win Total Picks and Predictions for NCAA Football
2017 Record: 4-8
2018 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 5.5*
2018 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: 'Under'
Prior to Tommy Tuberville's hiring in 2013, Cincinnati had gone 65-26 over a seven-year stretch while serving as a springboard for Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. How badly did Tuberville screw up this program? They have gone 33-31 since he stepped on campus. And now it is up to second-year coach Luke Fickell to continue to pick up the pieces of this program.
Cincinnati was not very good at all last year. At all. Of their four wins, three of them (Miami, OH, Tulane and Connecticut - not exactly powerhouses) came by a combined six points. The Bearcats are 3-13 straight up against FBS competition and are just 7-16 against the spread over the past two seasons. They still don't look all that competitive heading into 2018.
Hayden Moore is back under center to start fall camp. But he's been erratic and injury prone. Moore has a big arm and threw for 20 touchdowns last season. But he completed only 56 percent of his passes for barely more than 200 yards per game. Moore will lean on leading receiver Kahlil Lewis and top rusher Gerrid Doaks. But the offensive line is a little ragged, and the Bearcats finished outside the Top 100 in total offense and scoring defense.
Fickell is a defensive guy. But the Bearcats had their worst stop unit of the decade last season, allowing 31.8 points per game. He's attempting a ground up rebuild on this side of the ball. But with seven starters back, they should at least show significant progress.
The Bearcats do not have a favorable schedule at all. They open at UCLA against a Bruins team that is rebuilding under Chip Kelly. They come home for a game in Paul Brown Stadium against a Miami, OH team that has lost four straight to the Bearcats by a touchdown or less. The Bearcats also have to face an Ohio team that is one of the favorites to win the MAC this year.
League play begins at Connecticut and at home against Tulane - the two AAC teams that the Bearcats beat last year.
Things don't get better after their Oct. 13 bye week. Cincinnati has to play Temple and Central Florida, two of the league favorites, on the road. They also have to take on Navy and South Florida in back-to-back weeks.
This doesn't look like a bowl team to me. They lack playmakers on offense, and they are still really young on defense, with five potential sophomore starters. Time will tell if young Fickell was a good hire. But for now I'm betting that they are still at least a year away from being competitive again in the AAC.
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