Off to a fresh start in 2016, the Cincinnati Bearcats and head coach Tommy Tuberville will have a lot to look forward to in the coming season. With the return of their starting quarterback and the majority of the offensive line, the offense looks like it will not skip a beat in comparison to last season, but the revitalization of their defense is what has fans talking.
The Bearcats, in my opinion, will undoubtedly be better next season with a team that will be older and have more experience under their belt. While we wait for the 2016 season to come upon us, many fans like to speculate on a win-loss record ahead of time and envision what the Bearcats will look like in 2016 and I am going to do exactly that.
Keep in mind that no one has seen these new players yet, nor have we seen this team as a whole play yet, so the majority of this will be based on speculation, last year's statistics, and good old instinct. Up as the first test for the Bearcats in 2016 are the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks, who finished third in the Ohio Valley Conference and went 7-4 overall this past season.
Let's go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room, which happens to be the fact that they do not do statistics for the FCS the same way they do for the FBS. Having some kind of statistical comparison is essentially out the window. That being said, the statistical comparison would have been relatively useless considering these two teams are on different planets in terms of talent.
The Bearcats opened with an FCS school in 2015 as well and it resulted in a laughable 52-10 score. This will be the most likely scenario considering that UT-Martin played two games against the FBS that resulted in 139 points allowed and an astounding 1,253 yards against teams ranked 33rd and 14th in total offense last season. For comparison, the Bearcats were 9th at the end of the season (4th before the dud that was the bowl game). The Bearcats will have no problem getting into a groove and running up the score to start off the 2016 slate in Nippert Stadium.
I could copy and paste the offensive section down here and it would be just as successful representing the defense as the offense. Rather than talk about the inevitable success of the Bearcats though, I would rather talk about the revamped defense for the Bearcats. The Bearcats have some of the most dominant players in the conference returning with only one significant contributor leaving; Silverberry Mouhon from the defensive line. I would not be surprised if the Bearcats held the Skyhawks scoreless for the entire first half of this game.
If I were Tuberville, I would make this unit play the entire game just to get an idea of how much work it really is going to be when they are playing games in the AAC. Hopefully we will see a polished unit give up no more than a couple scores and we will leave the game feeling confident about the defense. If the Skyhawks have more than two scores with the starters in, I would consider it a cause for concern.
It will be an ugly game to watch and I doubt it will be very entertaining at all. I do not see the Bearcats scoring any less than 50 points and hopefully the defense keeps the Skyhawk offense in single digits. Unfortunately for the Skyhawks, they have the least chance of knocking off the Bearcats in 2016. My final score from half a year away is something like 63-14.