The Bearcats will have a nice cool down stretch for when they play their week four matchup, which is against the Miami (OH) Redhawks at Nippert Stadium on Saturday September 24th. After facing the former AAC champions, they will retake the field again, a week later, to face a MAC bottom-feeder last season. The Redhawks aren't likely going to be significantly better than last season and considering they were 3-9 (with one win against an FCS team), I don't see them having a high probability to pull the upset.
Ironically enough, last season's best performance for the Redhawks came against the Bearcats, with Cincinnati pulling away to win by four. This is the same team that lost to Ohio, Northern Illinois, and Western Kentucky by a combined score of 135-29, but somehow they nearly snatched one from the Bearcats last season in a four-point loss. Is an upset in store for the Redhawks if the Bearcats play to their level after a big win/tough loss, or do the Bearcats come out and prove a point?
To be quite honest, if you are in a time crunch this passage will be saying nothing, but "Bearcats are good and the Redhawks are bad" so feel free to skip ahead. This matchup is not going to be pretty. Even if the Bearcats only score three touchdowns in this game they will likely still be winning by double-digits compared to the RedHawks offense, which was pitiful last season. The truth here is that there is no matchup at all.
I could say watch out for Gunner Kiel, but I doubt he will even play the whole game. The Miami (OH) offense was a horrendous 113th in the country and only managed to graze 4,000 total yards on the season. In comparison, the Bearcats managed to hit around 7,000. The RedHawks were only 15 spots ahead of UCF, and if any of you watched that game last season, you have an idea what to expect. This Miami offense only scored 17.9 points a game and averaged just over 300 yards of offense a game, which isn't too bad until you think about the fact that they play in one of the weakest conferences in the country that is populated by teams like UMass, Kent State, and Eastern Michigan.
This is something to be excited about and worth going in depth on, considering these teams were nearly equals last season defensively and are both poised to improve. The RedHawks actually had a better defense than the Bearcats last season, ranking 68th in the country to the Bearcats 79th. Yet, the Bearcats only gave up 10 more yards a game and if not for a rush defense that allowed 30 more yards per game, they would have had the RedHawks beat.
The Bearcats had a much better secondary and gave up around two points less per game, but the RedHawks actually had a resemblance of a pass rush and penetration, which allowed them to fair pretty well against the run. Despite all this, the Bearcats will likely play better defensively, not only because they're more talented, but because they will play a whole lot less, considering the RedHawks have the offensive firepower of a peewee team. It will be fun to watch the defenses matchup this season, especially compared to a year ago.
It will be ugly, but an entertaining ugly, similar to "that's so nasty, but I can't stop looking." The Bearcats offense will get a nice walkthrough before heading into the meat of their schedule and the Redhawks will get a confidence boost, if they play well, or a serious reality check for their ceiling this season.
Despite how well the Redhawks played them last season, I don't see the Bearcats slipping up after a bad loss to the Cougars and if they win, they will just be more confident and win anyways. I'm rolling with the Bearcats half a year away with something along the line of 45-13, in favor of the Bearcats.