Returning Starters – Offense: 8 Defense: 4
Preview: Since coming over from Texas Tech, head coach Tommy Tuberville has had success at Cincinnti going 18-8 overall through his first two seasons. Cincinnati closed out last regular season with 7 straight wins, but to be fair these games came against the weaker teams in the AAC. The Bearcats had a very favorable conference schedule in 2014 and it should be interesting to see how this group fairs this season against a tougher conference slate.
Cincinnati should compete for the conference crown again this season behind the strength of their offense. Gunslinger QB Gunner Kiel is back and ready to build off of the 31 TD season he had in 2014. Kiel is a former top recruit who looks like he’s found a home with the Bearcats. Kiel returns his top 7 receivers from last season which means this pass attack is only going to get better. The Bearcats want to be better on the ground in 2015 and backs Williams and Boone will compete for the starting job. 3 starters return on the line and this unit loses their best player LT Eric Lefeld.
Defense is still a major concern for Cincinnati and this below average unit returns just 4 starters. The Bearcats were exposed by the tougher schools on their schedule last season, but the team was at least decent against the weaker teams in the AAC. Cincinnati has to replace three of their top players from the front seven, with the major returning starter being Mouhon at DE. The Bearcats are hoping to be better in the secondary with safety Edwards back along with the return of Witty from injury.
Prediction: Cincinnati might not be thrilled about being in the AAC after all the recent conference reshuffling, but they’ll continue to get more wins than if they were in the Big 12 or ACC. Expect the Bearcats to compete for the AAC title this season given they have one of the best offenses in the conference. We’ll really get a sense of where this team is nationally in late September when they play against Miami at home and BYU on the road.
Projected Record: 9-3 (7-1)