As one of the new bloggers here I thought I might start off with some short reflections on the season thus far and project the last 3 games. I’ve been a University of Cincinnati season ticket holder since 1998, I’ve seen some very good football teams and some very bad teams. To be honest, I’m still not sure what we’re looking at this year.
Most programs would be pretty content with sitting at Cincinnati’s current record of 7-2. It’s a good record and we ought not overlook that but when we look and see that our opponent’s combined record this season is 17-61 with a strength of schedule coming in at 251 of 252 (realtimerpi.com), it stirs my cynical side. I’m growing cautiously optimistic about this team but so far we’ve played a combined record of 17-61 and the last three games the opponents have a combined record of 20-5.
What will we do for those last 3 games?
The next two games are on the road and just for kicks lets look at how we perform on the road this year:
At home we’re averaging 43 ppg (points per game) on offense and 15.4 ppg on defense. That is pretty good even though one of those is an FCS game. On the road our scoring average on offense drops to 21.5 ppg and defense rises to 23 ppg.
The next two games also begin at noon and on the year we’ve only scored once in the first quarter of a noon game. With the three best teams on our schedule coming back to back to back at the end of the season we really can’t afford the first quarter offensive mulligan we’ve been taking all season. For most games our defense has been strong enough to keep us in the game until the offense wakes up but the defense has played 9 teams who have a combined 17 wins. Our defense is good but somewhat untested just by the nature of our schedule.
So what’s the prediction?
If we’re looking at the raw numbers then the evidence would lead us to believe that 1) we don’t play well on the road 2) we don’t play well with noon kickoff times and 3) we don’t know how we play against teams with a winning record because we’ve yet to see one. The problem with raw data like that is that it doesn’t account for the intangibles of the sport. The team has a good deal of momentum now after winning a few straight. They should also have a great deal of confidence after winning several close games this year. They’ve got great senior leadership and a top flight coaching staff.
I’d be willing to pencil us in at 2-1 in the remaining schedule. That would give us 9 wins on the season and a shot at a 10 win season if we get a favorable bowl matchup. (By the way, CBS has us predicted for a Liberty Bowl re-match at the BBVA Compass Bowl, wouldn’t that be a treat?) We’re favored by 2 on Saturday against Rutgers which says to me that Vegas is just as puzzled by us as I am.
I could see this team going 3-0 if they win this Saturday and catch fire. They could also lose this Saturday and go 0-3 for the final stretch. I really don’t see a coach like Tuberville letting that happen but with another injury or two and we might in a tough spot. Either way it’s been a good season and much better than Butch Jones’ first season but this schedule has been weak and now we’re seeing it’s been pretty lopsided. More than likely we pick up at least one of these road games and if we can get a loud crowd in Nippert I think we can take down Louisville for a great end to the season.