An Early Look at the University of Cincinnati 2021 Football Schedule
According to at least one poll, the Cincinnati Bearcats will enter the 2021 season ranked in the top ten following a 9-1 campaign in 2020 that saw them rise to number eight in the College Football Playoff rankings before a 24-21 loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. The lack of any quality non-conference victories, despite going undefeated, hindered Cincinnati’s ability to get serious consideration for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.
With a slew of returning players, including quarterback Desmond Ridder, the Bearcats appear poised to make another run not at an American Athletic Conference championship but perhaps even a national championship. Although the idea may seem unlikely, a strong non-conference schedule including a pair of top 15 Power Five conference teams gives them a shot.
The tumultuous 2020 college football season created a number of changes to accommodate conference and university-mandated Covid-19 protocols, but including the elimination of divisions in the American due to UConn and Navy option out of conference play. With the departure of UConn from the conference, divisions will no longer be used, and the remaining eleven teams will play an eight-game conference slate.
Cincinnati has a somewhat favorable conference schedule, avoiding traditional powers Houston and Memphis while playing the four teams that finished at the bottom of the standings in 2020. A key contest will be a rematch of last season’s American championship when the Bearcats host Tulsa on November 6th.
Back to Back Games on the Road Against Ranked Power Five Teams
After opening with fellow Ohio school Miami from the Mid-American Conference, followed by FCS member Murray State, the Bearcats have a pair of road games that will define their season on a national level. First, on September 18th, they travel to Bloomington to take on the upstart Indiana Hoosiers, ranked 15th in the preseason.
The Hoosiers finished 6-1 in the Big Ten in 2020 and lost to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl in Tampa by the score of 26-20. Cincinnati should be slightly favored in the game, and it would be a great resume builder if Indiana goes on to have at least moderate success for the rest of the season.
Following a bye week, Cincinnati will go to Notre Dame, ranked sixth in the preseason and coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff. The Fighting Irish are back to independent status after competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year and winning the regular-season title.
The trip to Notre Dame will conclude the non-conference portion of the Bearcats’ season, and they’ll host Temple to begin the league slate. Other than the Tulsa clash, key games include a home game with UCF and new coach Gus Malzahn on October 16th, followed by a visit to the Navy on October 23rd.
With the Big Ten’s Ohio State set to continue the success of last year’s College Football Playoff appearance, the Buckeye State could have a couple of teams with an opportunity to play for the national championship following the 2021 season.
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