Nov 23, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Nick Temple (43) and defensive end Terrell Hartsfield (95) celebrate after a defensive play during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati's BCS Bowl And AAC Title Hopes Coming Down To Final Weekend, A Little Luck

It’s not looking good, folks.

After South Florida ripped my heart out, threw it in a blender, set it to “liquify”, mixed it with gasoline, and set the horrific concoction on fire on Friday night, the Bearcats basically need a miracle to go to a BCS bowl game. Here’s where we stand:

  • #16: Central Florida (@ SMU, Saturday at 12:00 pm)
  • #19: Louisville (@ Cincinnati, Thursday at 7:30 pm)
  • #27: Cincinnati (Louisville, Thursday at 7:30 pm)

With all three teams at the top of the AAC within eleven spots of each other, we could very well see a far different pecking order next Sunday night when the final BCS rankings are released. The key are each team’s last games of the regular season. The Knights face the Mustangs in Dallas while the Cardinals and Bearcats clash on Thursday night in the battle for the Keg of Nails. For UC to go to the Sugar Bowl to take on (gulp) Alabama, the following events will have to transpire:

  • Cincinnati beats Louisville on Thursday night, and hopefully decisively (think 20-30 point margin).
  • Central Florida loses to SMU.
  • The planets align.
  • Elvis and Andy Kaufman are found alive, playing poker in the basement of John Lennon’s house.
  • Tommy Tuberville finds a four-leaf clover in his front yard.
  • Blake Bortles eats a bad batch of empanadas on Friday night.

Sorry to make it sound desperate but, really, Cincinnati’s hopes of another BCS bowl birth are pretty darn slim now. Not only have the Knights been sleeping with horseshoes for the last month but they now take on a SMU team that will be without senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert. He was sidelined last Saturday against Houston. The Mustangs wound up muddling their way to just 295 yards of total offense and zero points. If SMU could do next to nothing against the Cougars, how do you think they’ll perform against UCF?

Probably not well.

But Cincinnati has been in this situation before, two years in a row in fact. In 2011, with West Virginia pacing the Big East and the Bearcats right behind them, the Mountaineers squeaked away with a victory over Pittsburgh. UC needed to beat UConn in the last game of the year and WVU to lose to South Florida. The Bearcats got their job done but the same couldn’t be said for the Bulls. West Virginia narrowly survived USF to win the Big East and earn a spot in the Orange Bowl.

Then, late last season, Cincinnati was essentially out of the hunt for the Big East’s BCS bowl birth but a share of the conference championship was still in play. And it worked out for them! Louisville took down Rutgers and UC beat UConn to give all three of them along with Syracuse identical 5-2 conference records. Cincinnati hoisted its fourth Big East trophy in five years.

So once again, the Bearcats find themselves needing to win their final game of the year to even have a punchers chance at a share of the inaugural AAC title and a spot in their first BCS bowl game since the 2009 season. Somehow SMU must pull a rabbit out of its hat and take down Central Florida on Saturday. Before that, though, UC needs to beat Louisville on Thursday night. Will we see both occur? Who knows. Crazier things have happened.

One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to be getting much sleep for the next several days.

Tags: Bearcats Cardinals Central Florida Knights Louisville Mustangs Smu UCF

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