Nov 9, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats running back Hosey Williams (23) runs through a hole during the closing minutes of the Bearcats 28-25 win over the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Possibilities Narrowed Down for 2014 Football Opener Opponent

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Last week, the American Athletic Conference office released each school’s home and away opponents for the 2014 football season.  Not the full schedule, just the opponent pairings.  Now, despite the fact that every one of the power conferences and even Conference USA have had their full schedules announced for quite a while now, we will have to wait for the full AAC schedule – probably until the first week of March.

All this waiting got me antsy, so I decided to try to at least figure out who the Bearcats could potentially play in the 2014 Season Opener.  UC, after all, has weeks 1 and 2 of the season open, before the Bearcats play all four of their non-conference games in a five week span from weeks 3-7.

Here is what the 2014 season looks like at this point, with conference dates TBA (per fbschedules.com):

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Saturday
Aug. 30
TBA
Saturday
Sept. 6
TBA
Saturday
Sept. 13
Rockets Toledo Rockets
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
TBA
Saturday
Sept. 20
RedHawks Miami (OH) RedHawks
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
TBA
Saturday
Sept. 27
Buckeyes at Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 4
TBA
Saturday
Oct. 11
Hurricanes at Miami (FL) Hurricanes 
Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 18
TBA
Saturday
Oct. 25
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 1
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 8
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 15
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 22
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 29
TBA
Saturday
Dec. 6
TBA
2014 Games with dates TBA
* American home games: East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF
* American road games: UConn, SMU, Temple, Tulane

 

Since there is a 0% chance that UC will be idle for both of the first two weeks of the 2014 season, that means that the ‘Cats will open the 2014 season with a conference game against an opponent from the American.  This, of course, has worked out well for UC is years past.  Back in the Big East days, the ‘Cats throttled Rutgers 47-15 on Labor Day to open 2009, and bludgeoned Pitt 34-10 on a Thursday night to open 2012.  (And in case you were wondering, all four non-conference opponents are booked for both Weeks 1 and 2, so moving a non-conference game to Week 1 doesn’t seem like a possibility.)

Furthermore, the possibilities of which AAC team the Bearcats will play are down to precisely two.  All other 2014 opponents are already booked for both Weeks 1 and 2.

Here are those two possibilities:

A Week 1 road game against Tulane (which would potentially christen Tulane’s shiny, new, on-campus stadium),

-or-

A Week 2 home game against Houston at Paul Brown Stadium.  (It would be ideal if this game could be moved up to Thursday night ESPN primetime, but Houston would probably need UT-San Antonio to agree to move their Week 1 game to avoid playing a conference game on only four days’ rest – both schools are open in Week 4).

Of course, this theoretically could change, but at this point, it seems likely that UC will open against Tulane or Houston, and if Houston, the game would probably be on Saturday, not Thursday.  UCF also happens to be open in Week 2, but due to the AAC’s mismanagement of the scheduling rotation, the Bearcats and Knights won’t meet for the second year in a row.

I’m torn on which I prefer.  From a competitive standpoint, it would be nice to take an early lead in the conference race with what should (in theory, at least) be an easy win at Tulane.  On the other hand, 80% of our city’s sports fans are bandwagon jumpers, and a competitive home opener against Houston would probably get a few more fans to jump on the ‘ol wagon early.  It would also probably help generate better attendance figures as UC plays this season’s home games in the limbo of Mike Brown’s concrete jungle.

Also, while looking up schedules, I stumbled across something that really, really, pissed me off.  Louisville doesn’t have room on it’s non-conference schedule to continue playing for the Keg of Nails, but apparently they have room for a home-and-home against Houston in 2015 and 2016.  What a joke.

 

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