Cincinnati Football: Penalties continue to be a major concern for the Bearcats

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell against the UCF Knights at Nippert Stadium. USA Today.
Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell against the UCF Knights at Nippert Stadium. USA Today. /
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Despite being one of the most penalized programs in the country, the Bearcats are in a solid position to win a third straight AAC championship and appear in another New Year’s Six bowl. It will be difficult to attain those goals unless the penalties subside.

I’m not normally the type of person to harp on flags, especially if the team continues to have success, but it’s been an Achilles heel for Cincinnati all season and was arguably the biggest reason SMU climbed back into the game at home last Saturday.

After taking a 17-0 lead, Cincinnati slowly started to become unraveled with several after-the-play and unsportsmanlike penalties. The Bearcats committed a season-high 14 penalties for 128 yards and that allowed SMU to stay within striking distance.

Cincinnati Football: Penalties continue to be a major concern for the Bearcats

If they were an isolated issue that only happened in certain stadiums or with specific referee crews then it wouldn’t be such a big concern but penalties have plagued Cincinnati since September. In the first five games, the Bearcats had an alarming 49 flags.

Luke Fickell’s team has committed the third-most penalties (67) in the entire country this season and leads the nation with 9.57 penalties per game. If that continues against UCF on Saturday, the Bearcats will lose a conference game for the first time since 2019.

During a weekly press conference, Fickell discussed fixing the penalty concerns via Cincinnati Athletics.

"“It’s an issue and I spend a lot of time trying to find ways that we can be better. We haven’t done a good job at finding what that balance is just yet. It can get lopsided and out of control. Hopefully the realization when you talk about it as an entire team, guys start to recognize the impact that they have and that’s the only way I know to try and make a change. It’s not just standing up there hollering and screaming or pulling guys out of games. We have to recognize the impact it has in the long run.”"

Next. Cincinnati Football: Week 9 preview, odds, predictions at UCF. dark