According to Bovada, the Cincinnati Bearcats will win 6.5 games in 2016. Well, that’s not exactly true, but the sports book recently released its over/unders for every FBS team and placed UC at 6.5 wins.
The number really speaks to how much of a trainwreck the 2015 season was for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Presumptive American Athletic Conference title contenders, UC went just 7-6, losing a few tight games, but generally digging itself in too deep.
The seven wins the Bearcats had last season were the fewest since 2010, the first year of the Butch Jones era when the team went 4-8. In the last 20 years, the Bearcats have won fewer than six games only five times. Granted, these last two decades came on the heels of a longer dark period. Before UC defeated Utah State in the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl, it had not been in a postseason game since the 1951 Sun Bowl. In that same time, UC won more than six games only 10 times and only six of those campaigns came after 1954.
With that historical precedence, bemoaning a seven-win campaign seems trite. We are still in the midst of a great time in the history of Bearcats football. However, with a taste for bowl games and conference title contention, there's no going back.
As Tommy Tuberville begins his fourth season at the helm for UC, expectations are much more modest than a year ago. The AAC’s preseason media poll picked the Bearcats third in the East and did not give them a single vote as conference champion. Perhaps playing the role of underdog rather than favorite will lead back toward the days, recent as they may be, of nine or 10 wins.