Cincinnati Bearcats will close out the 2019 season by facing Boston College in the Birmingham Bowl on January 2nd. Facing a 6-6 ACC team in a less-than-spectacular bowl game that most folks won’t be able to watch due to it’s time-slot, is not the reward fans or players were hoping for to end this 10-3 season.
But the AAC bowl tie-ins are less-than-spectacular, so here we are. There are plenty of reasons to complain, but there are also plenty of reasons to celebrate and get excited for this game.
Chance at 11 wins
Bearcats enter this game at 10-3. They have only won 11 games three times in school history (2008, 2009, 2018). A win in this game would be the 4th time they have done it and would continue the school’s upward trajectory and build momentum towards 2020.
Last chance for seniors
LBs Perry Young and Bryan Wright, CB Cam Jefferies, TE Josiah Deguara, OL Morgan James and Chris Ferguson, WRs Rashad Medaris and Thomas Geddis, and K Sam Crosa are among the seniors who will be playing their final game as Cincinnati Bearcats.
While a dozen or so different bowl games might have been a better option and a better way to end their careers, the fact is this is their last game with a C-Paw on their helmet and regardless of where they play, the most important thing is that they end their careers with one last win and one last locker room dance party.
One of the biggest benefits that constantly gets brought up when talking about bowl games is the extra practice time. Per NCAA rules, the Bearcats are permitted to practice an additional 15 times between bowl announcement and bowl game. For a team with a ton of youth and a lot of returning starters and key backups for 2020, this is a major benefit.
QB Desmond Ridder often struggled with accuracy and finding rhythm with his wide receivers. This could be a chance to build some rapport and get on the same page with those guys. It could also be an opportunity to get backup Ben Bryant some additional practice reps, perhaps kick starting a potential spring/summer competition for the QB job in 2020?
Perry Young and Bryan Wright will leave quite the void at linebacker and these practices could be used to experiment with different combinations and players to get a head start on that competitions.
Josiah Deguara’s departure means more playing time for Bruno LaBelle, Leonard Taylor, Wilson Huber among other tight ends, who can begin their competition now too.
While much of the 15 practices will be spent preparing for Boston College, there’s no question that some of it will be beneficial in getting a head start on 2020 planning.
All due respect to Birmingham, Alabama, it is not Boca Raton, Florida (which is beautiful). It is not Annapolis, Maryland (yes, Cincinnati was there last year, but that doesn’t make it any less of a town). It is not Memphis (a place the team just played 2 games in 8 days). And it’s not Tampa, Florida.
When you plan your family vacations or trips with friends, I’m sure Birmingham is no where near the top of the list.
If you disagree about Birmingham being a poor destination, we can agree to disagree. Many fans attended the Papajohns.com Bowl in 2007 and actually did enjoy the experience and if so, good for you! Happy to hear it.
But one thing everyone should agree on is the timing is absolutely awful. Some executives somewhere sat in a room and decided it was a good business decision to play a bowl game on January 2nd at 3:00 pm, while most people return to work after some time off for the holidays. Are fans really prepared to use a couple of days off to spend New Year’s and a weekend in Birmingham? Any of those above mentioned sites would have been much more appealing. It’s bad enough that the day and time of the game make travel difficult, but simply watching the game at home is going to be a challenge for most fans too.
Attendance will likely be bad. Boston College is not a good team and Bearcats fans are less than thrilled with the selection. TV ratings will also tank due to the timing of the game. Attendance and ratings are things that could end up being factors down the road for Cincinnati and that’s not good.
Boston College went 6-6, with wins over Virginia Tech and Pitt and a 48-24 loss at home to Kansas. They currently have no head coach.
Cincinnati has some recent history of playing middle-of-the-pack ACC teams in bowl games, such as Duke and UNC in back-to-back Belk Bowls and Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl in 2014 and 2018. Forgive fans for being a little tired of playing mediocre ACC teams and wanting something more exciting.
I will let you decide if this is a good or a bad thing...
The Bearcats are playing for a pants-less man trophy in the Birmingham Bowl game.
Apparently, this man is the Vulcan Statue and according to a new twitter friend, they sell bobbleheads of this statue.