Cincinnati Football: Five reasons why the Bearcats will repeat in AAC

Luke Fickell has helped Cincinnati become the premier program in the conference and it would only be fitting to win a third straight title before departing for the Big 12 next summer. Here are five reasons why the Bearcats will repeat in the AAC.

Cincinnati Football: Five reasons why the Bearcats will repeat in AAC

1) Defensive unit is littered with talent

Despite losing multiple upperclassmen to the draft, the defense should have enough experience to remain a force. The front is filled with veterans Jowon Briggs, Jabari Taylor and Malik Vann, while the Pace brothers are expected to wreak havoc at linebacker. Arquon Bush and Ja’von Hicks should also be able to shore up the secondary.

2) Experienced and loaded offensive line

With five starters returning from last season, the offensive line could be the Bearcats’ most complete unit. Lorenz Metz, Dylan O’Quinn and Jake Renfro are coming back after earning All-AAC honors, while Jeremy Cooper and James Tunstall are quality veterans that new offensive line coach Mike Cummings will continue to lean on.

3) Fickell has established a winning culture

After failing to secure bowl eligibility in his first season at the helm, Fickell established a winning culture and turned Cincinnati into the conference’s most consistent team. The Bearcats have compiled a remarkable 44-7 record since 2017 and should continue to play with confidence late in close games because of the culture in place.

4) Running back depth is impressive

Finding a running back to replace Jerome Ford is definitely easier said than done but the Bearcats have enough legitimate options to feel comfortable heading into the opener at Arkansas. It sounds like Myles Montgomery or Ryan Montgomery will earn the starting nod with overqualified back ups Corey Kiner and Charles McClelland.

5) Schedule lines up for another title run

A trip to Arkansas is a difficult way to start the season but the rest of the schedule isn’t nearly as daunting. Cincinnati opens conference play at Tulsa followed by matchups with South Florida, SMU and UCF. If the Bearcats are undefeated (or close to it) heading into November again, another conference championship would be within reach.