Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 6-0 in AAC play and 9-1 overall with a 20-17 win at USF on Saturday. That win puts Cincinnati in the driver’s seat for the conference championship.
How the Bearcats Can Reach AAC Title Game
Cincinnati’s path to their first ever AAC Championship game appearance on December 7th, is pretty straight forward. They need to win one of the final two games either against Temple at home on Saturday or on the road against Memphis the day after Thanksgiving.
Temple is 4-2, two games behind the Bearcats but since they face each other on Saturday, the Owls have a clear path to win the East division - win in Cincinnati Saturday and beat UConn in the regular season finale.
UCF is 4-2 and still technically in the mix. If UCF wins out, on the road against Tulane and at home against USF, the Knights would finish 6-2. If Temple wins out and Cincinnati loses out, all three teams would be 6-2. There is no head-to-head tiebreaker, since Cincinnati would have a win over UCF, UCF a win over Temple, and Temple a win over Cincinnati. The division champion would be determined by the team with the highest ranking, which likely wouldn’t benefit Cincinnati, ending the year on a two game losing streak.
West Division Scenarios
Memphis, SMU, and Navy are all 5-1. Memphis has head-to-head wins over both teams and SMU plays Navy this weekend, so the loser is out of it.
Memphis plays USF and Cincinnati.
After SMU vs Navy this Saturday, SMU ends vs Tulsa and Navy plays at Houston.
If Memphis wins out, they win the AAC West. If Memphis loses one, whoever wins out between SMU or Navy would win the West.
Home Field Advantage
AAC Championship Game is played at the stadium of the team with the best conference record.
If Cincinnati wins out, and finishes 8-0, the game would be played at Nippert Stadium. If Memphis wins out, at 7-1 with the head-to-head win over Cincinnati, the Championship Game would be played at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
If it comes down to CIncinnati vs SMU/Navy all being 7-1, since the Bearcats did not face those teams, the College Football Playoff rankings would be used to determine which team would be the host.
If Cincinnati wins the final two games and wins the AAC, they would be the highest ranked “group of five” champion in the final rankings, which would automatically slot them as an at-large in one of the New Year’s Six bowl games, which would be the Cotton Bowl for this season. Cotton Bowl is held at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on December 28th at noon EST.
If the Bearcats are not in the Cotton Bowl, there scenarios become a lot more complicated with bowl options ranging from the Liberty Bowl, Gasparilla Bowl, Birmingham Bowl, Cure Bowl among potential others.