Following a week off, Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1, 3-0 AAC) return to action against East Carolina Pirates (3-5, 0-4 AAC).
After winning their 6th game at home, two weeks ago vs Tulsa, the Bearcats are already bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. With 5 regular season games remaining, there is a chance that Cincinnati appears in a very special bowl game. A win on Saturday will help them keep pace for that special game and also allow anyone who bet over 6.5 wins to cash in their bets.
After winning 9 games total over the last three seasons, ECU is now in their first year under coach Mike Houston, who was previously at James Madison, where he won the FCS National Championship in 2016.
Pirates’ 3 wins matches their win totals from the last thee years. They haven’t won more than 3 since winning 5 in 2015. They have a chance to exceed 3 wins with UConn still on the schedule and a home game against Tulsa to end the season.
Pirates have certainly been improved and have mostly held their own in conference games, losing to Temple 27-17 and losing to UCF 41-28 on the road. Navy (42-10) and USF last week (45-20) weren’t so competitive.
More on East Carolina Football in our weekly opponent preview
Who is ECU? And what should Bearcats fans expect on Saturday? We asked Stephen Igoe, who covers ECU for 247Sports his thoughts on everything related to this week’s game.
By the Numbers
ECU QB Holton Ahlers has thrown 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions
Cincinnati allows 20.4 ppg (17 ppg if you exclude Ohio State), while ECU offense scores just 21.5 ppg.
ECU allows 28.3 ppg and CIncinnati scores 33.3 ppg (35 ppg if you exclude Ohio State)
Bearcats defense leads FBS with 19 takeaways in 2019
History of Cincinnati vs ECU
Saturday will be the first meeting in Greenville since current Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew started for ECU in 2017 and threw 444 yards and 4 TDs in a blowout victory for the Pirates.
Cincinnati is 4-1 in 5 AAC games against ECU. All 4 games have been exciting and, in some cases, dramatic. You’ve heard the phrase “not all heroes where capes”? Well, that’s true. Not only that, but some heroes only use your leg to save the day.
Read up on the history of this series and about Gunner Kiel’s 3-0 record and Kahlil Lewis’ ridiculous TD rate.
Bowl Game Status
Mentioned earlier that the Bearcats have a chance to make a special bowl game this season. It will officially come down to the AAC Champion or Boise State (who has 1 loss). Previously unbeaten Appalachian State lost on Thursday night, eliminating them from NY6 bowl contention.
Here is the latest roundup of what the media is saying about Cincinnati’s bowl projections.
Clayton Trutor: The Bearcats will emerge from a surprisingly tough contest with the Pirates with a lopsided win.
Cincinnati 38 East Carolina 21
Phil Neuffer: I was not a fan of this week of no UC football business, but the Bearcats are back and facing an East Carolina team they should defeat easily. Although East Carolina’s record isn’t a complete disaster (3-5), two of their three wins came against teams from outside the FBS and the other came against an Old Dominion squad that is 1-7 this season. ECU is 10th in the American Athletic Conference in total offense and total defense and they are the second-worst team in the league when it comes to third down offense. The Bearcats should be able to get stops consistently, move the ball at will and leave Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium with their seventh win.
Cincinnati 38 East Carolina 6
Mike Schneid: Remember what happened last time Cincinnati played a road game coming off of an off week? They beat Marshall 52-14. That’s what is going to happen here. A relaxed and refreshed Bearcats team will come out firing. Offensive Coordinator Mike Denbrock will call a much better game and put QB Desmond Ridder in better positions to succeed. Ridder throws 3 touchdowns, runs for one and Bearcats RBs combine for 2 more.
Cincinnati 42 East Carolina 14
Around the AAC - Week 10
Memphis vs SMU
5 AAC games in week 10, with the biggest one on ABC Primetime at 7:30 Saturday night featuring Memphis and SMU in a battle of first place in the AAC West. For the second straight season, College Gameday will be present at an AAC school, with Memphis hosting for the first time. Tigers are ranked 24th and come in at 7-1, with their lone loss to Temple, while SMU is 8-0 and ranked 15th. The winner of this will control their fate and could potentially face Cincinnati the first weekend in December in the AAC Championship game.
Tulane vs Tulsa
After a 5-1 start, Tulane has cooled off and lost two in a row (Memphis, Navy). Green Wave looks to get back on track hosting a Tulsa team that might just be the unluckiest team in the country. I can say with confidence, they are the best 2-6 team in college football. Other than blow outs to Navy and Michigan State, Tulsa has been in every game. They led Oklahoma State at the half, hung with Cincinnati until the final minutes, had a big lead over SMU before losing in overtime and should have beat Memphis but missed a chip shot game winning field goal last week.
A Tulane win gives them 6 and secures bowl eligibility. It would be the first time since 1979-1980 that they go to back-to-back bowl games. And Tulsa loss eliminates them from bowl contention.
Houston vs UCF
This game certainly had more intrigue before the season. Cougars are 3-5 and seem lost. UCF, meanwhile, seemed to find themselves on offense last week putting up 63 points on the road against a tough Temple defense.
UCF’s chances at a third straight NY6 bowl are very slim as they trail Memphis, SMU, and Cincinnati, but the Knights need to keep winning to get back into the top 25 and continue to bring respect and recognition to the AAC.
Navy vs UConn
Almost quietly, Navy is 6-1. After last season’s disappointing disaster where the Midshipmen finished 4-9, it was hard to say how Navy would do in 2019 but they have certainly exceed expectations. They lead the country, averaging 350 yards rushing per game and they are scoring 38 ppg.
UConn meanwhile, well they stink. They play at Cincinnati next week. Last week, they snapped their ridiculous 22 game FBS losing streak, but did so against UMass who is basically an FCS team as this point.