SBNation released their complete, comprehensive College Football Preview online read-through (fo' free) and it is quite the compilation of facts, figures, stats and stories. I strongly urge everyone to check it out.
That said, there are 128 FBS College Football teams and, believe it or not, Cincinnati isn't one of the closely followed programs from a media perspective (I know! Ridiculous, right?). So, while there is a good deal of Cincinnati tidbits available in this full college football preview, I am here to help you navigate for the good stuff... the stuff pertaining to the Cincinnati Bearcats.
First off, let's begin with the first section of the preview: the 128 team power rankings.
In the power rankings, Cincinnati comes in as the 40th ranked team in the nation as a Tier 4 team. Tier 4 is designated as the teams that could play themselves into the Top 25. Cincinnati is joined here by the likes of Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Florida, Texas and Minnesota, ranked 35 thru 39, respectively. The Bearcats are ahead of Kansas State, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, NC State, Navy, Iowa, North Carolina and Maryland, who round out the top 49 teams.
My first thoughts looking at this ranking is that it is probably a pretty fair ranking. We can say what we want about Gunner Kiel and the weapons at his disposal, but Cincinnati has pretty good company in Tier 4 with once-elite programs (Florida, Texas), pushing back to the top, and other programs who are on the rise (Minnesota, Utah). Since much of the apprehension surrounding Cincinnati is with a defensive unit that could come together quickly, I do believe the Bearcats have a high enough ceiling to be a Tier 3 school ("A Top-15 Performance Would Not Be Surprising"), but I can't argue with the current placement.
The next big section that relates to the Bearcats is the Bowl/Playoff Predictions.
The playoff teams are Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon and TCU, according to the Preview, which shouldn't really surprise anyone. Cincinnati though, fits in further down the page at the Miami Beach Bowl on December 21. Their opponent?
Now, I'm not doubting that Western Kentucky can't play their way to the Miami Beach Bowl and I'm not accusing Mr. Jason Kirk of any faulty match-making. After all, it's a bowl for an American Athletic Conference team and a team from Conference USA. The match is made for you. When I look at this matchup thought, my first thought goes to all that Big 12 expansion nonsense from earlier this summer and how nice it could be if Cincinnati got roped into that. My second thought goes to the color scheme clash. Is Western Kentucky's red the same shade as Cincinnati's? If not, then can I get my television to mask the difference?
In the Conference Breakdown, Cincinnati is a considered a Tier 1 team with Navy, UCF, Memphis and Temple. Cincinnati is the only one with their own dedicated SB Nation blog from that top tier though so... HA!
Cincinnati hosting UCF on October 31 is considered the biggest game and all the Bearcats' receivers are the player to watch. No surprises here. There does appear to be a good deal of Navy love, but I'll allow it for now.
Cincinnati ranks 28th in the Chipotle proximity rankings, which the Bearcats inspired. And, Cincinnati was left off the "Lit or Not" college football uniform rankings, which I think it a real atrocity. Cincinnati's uniforms look good and would most certainly be "lit". I'm not sure how the oversight occurred, but we can take comfort in that other schools actually have to wear some of those uniforms in the article. Rough.
The uniforms aside, Cincinnati seems to be garnering the attention you would expect in the national power rankings and the conference breakdown. I'm not sure if I want to see a Western Kentucky and Cincinnati showdown come December, but we can cross that bridge when we get there. Once again, please give it a read-through yourself as there is a lot of good stuff throughout. If you read through and find that I missed something or want to share your general thoughts, please leave them below in the comments.