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College Football Week 4: Bearcats History and Connections to Each Game

With Cincinnati off during week 4, we look at how the Bearcats are tied to all 58 games this weekend.

East Carolina v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Cincinnati Bearcats are off week 4, which gives fans a chance to kick back and relax and enjoy a stress-free Saturday. There is a lot of big games for fans to watch and we thought it would be fun to identify Cincinnati’s connections and ties to all 58 week 4 games.

Top 25 Games

Michigan vs Wisconsin

Cincinnati beat #9 Wisconsin 17-12 in 1999. (To be) Heisman Trophy winning RB Ron Dayne ran for 231 yards at Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati finished 3-8, lost to 1-AA Troy State, but somehow beat a Badgers team that played in the Rose Bowl that year.

The Luke Fickell/Jim Harbaugh story is well known. Did you know Jim’s brother John coached at UC in the early 90s? He was the Special Teams coach from 1989-1996.

LSU @ Vanderbilt

Before committing to LSU before the 2018 season, Ohio State transfer QB Joe Burrow considered Cincinnati as one of his top two options. Burrow is from Ohio and had a relationship with Luke Fickell and several UC staff members. But the idea of playing for a high profile school in the SEC was too good for him to pass on. Burrow has 11 TDs and 2 INTs in 2019 and threw 16 TD and 5 INT in 2018.

Cincinnati beat Vanderbilt in the 2011 Liberty Bowl. Vandy’s QB was recent Bachelor winner Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Aaron Rodgers.

Air Force @ Boise State

IF Cincinnati were to beat UCF and make a run at the AAC title, Boise State could potentially be in the way of a Cotton Bowl appearance.

Air Force won the lone all-time meeting with Cincinnati in 1961.

OL Alex Heil previously played at Air Force before walking on at Cincinnati. Right before the season, Heil announced he was no longer a walk on.

Tennessee vs Florida

Ugh.

Bearcats played Tennessee once, back in 2011. RB Isaiah Pead ran for a 65 yard touchdown, 90 seconds into the game to give Cincinnati a quick lead. Vols won the game 45-23.

Cincinnati played Florida once too, that was to end the 2009 season in the Sugar Bowl. Bearcats lost 51-24 to finish the season 12-1. It was Tim Tebow’s final game and Urban Meyer’s first “retirement”.

Oklahoma State vs Texas

I know nobody wants to hear this, but the Bearcats were 1 second away from playing in the National Championship in 2009. Texas played Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh forced Texas QB Colt McCoy to throw the ball away and there was one second left. Initially the clock expired by coach Mack Brown argued that thee should be one second. Ultimately, the time was put back on the clock, Texas nailed the field goal to win and earned the right to lose to Alabama in the BCS title game, not Cincinnati.

Southern Miss vs Alabama

How crazy would it have been it Cincinnati played Alabama in the Rose Bowl in the BCS Championship game?? Who cares if the final score would have been something like 100-0. What an experience and what a program-changing moment that would have been. I wonder what kind of impact it would have had on the perception of the “Group of Five” today?

Former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones is an “analyst” on Nick Saban’s coaching staff.

Cincinnati has played Southern Miss 15 times, with the Bearcats leading the all-time series 8-7. The most recent game was the Papajohns.com Bowl in 2007. This was Brian Kelly’s first season and Cincinnati finished 10-3, securing their first 10 win season since 1951. QB Ben Mauk was the MVP of this bowl game.

Washington vs BYU

BYU swept a home-and-home series between 2015-2016. Bearcats lost 38-24 in Provo, thanks to 21 fourth quarter points from BYU. Cougars won at Nippert Stadium the next season, 20-3 in a game known for just one thing...

In 1974, Washington won at home against Cincinnati 21-17.

Utah vs USC

USC head coach Clay Helton’’s brother, Tyson, coached Tight Ends and Special Teams at Cincinnati in 2013. He is now the head coach at Western Kentucky.

Bearcats once got a transfer from USC - WR Vidal Hazelton, who was a highly touted recruit out of high school. Unfortunately, Hazelton only played one game - he caught 6 passes for 63 yards in his debut in 2010 week 1 vs Fresno State, but suffered a season ending leg injury ending his only remaining year of eligibility.

Old Dominion vs Virginia

Old Dominion and Cincinnati share a special bond from the 2018 season - both teams beat the Cavs’ biggest rival, Virginia Tech.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall worked at BYU when the Cougars beat the Bearcats in Provo in 2015.

Oregon vs Stanford

Oregon football really made it’s mark under former coach Chip Kelly, who is now with UCLA. Kelly is 0-2 coaching against Cincinnati losing in week 1 each of the last two seasons.

Charlotte vs Clemson

Entering the 2017 season, Cincinnati played Austin Peay in Luke Fickell’s first game as Bearcats head coach. They won the game 26-14, extending Austin Peay’s losing streak to 28 straight games. The streak would reach 29 with a loss the following week to Miami Ohio, before it was snapped week 3 against Morehead State.

That Austin Peay coach was Will Healy, who is now in his first year as Charlotte head coach.

Cal vs Ole Miss

Did you know that Rich Rodriguez is the Offensive Coordinator at Ole Miss? Rich Rod went 4-1 as head coach at West Virginia against the Bearcats between 2002-2007, with the one win coming in Morgantown in 2003. Kicker Chet Ervin nailed a 37 yard field goal with 2 minutes to go and the Bearcats won 15-13.

Cal Head Coach Justin Wilcox was Tennessee’s Defensive Coordinator in 2011, during the aforementioned Cincy loss to the Vols.

SMU vs TCU

The last two Cincinnati/SMU games ended in dramatic fashion. In 2017, Cincinnati put together an amazing 10 play drive late in the fourth quarter ending with a 21 yard touchdown pass from Hayden Moore to WR Devin Gray and the same connection converting a two point conversion sending the game to overtime. In overtime, Bearcats defense locked down with a couple of sacks and forced SMU into a 4th and 26 situation - that SMU would convert on a 28 yard pass from Ben Hicks to Trey Quinn. SMU would kick a field goal. Hayden Moore was picked off for Cincinnati. In 2018, they once again went to overtime, and the game ending with Cincinnati never touching the ball. Safety James Wiggins picked off Hicks and returned the interception for a game winning touchdown.

TCU and Cincinnati played together in Conference USA for three years (2002-2004), with Cincy winning two of the three meetings.

Colorado vs Arizona State

“You play to win the game”. And against Arizona State, that’s all Cincinnati has ever done, winning twice in Tempe. Cincy won 34-7 in 1954 and 14-0 in 1976.

Colorado Head Coach Mel Tucker worked on Ohio State’s coaching staff with Luke Fickell from 2002-2004. Tucker was co-Defensive Coordinator in 2004, when Fickell was the Linebackers Coach.

Colorado won the only meeting between Buffs and Cincinnati in 1976.

Old coaching friends

UCF @ Pitt

Cincinnati famously won at Pitt in 2009 in the famous “Pike to Binns” ending. They have a renewed home-and-home series scheduled for 2023-2024. Pitt won the ACC Coastal Division in 2018 and are coached by Pat Narduzzi, who spent three years at Cincinnati as the Defensive Coordinator under Mark Dantonio from 2004-2006.

UCF is obviously the biggest obstacle between Cincinnati and the AAC Championship game. It would benefit UC and the AAC if UCF continued to win. Plus, who wouldn’t want a top 15 UCF team to come to Nippert Stadium on 10/4. Knights haven’t lost a regular season game since 2016 and are 28-1 in their last 29 games.

Michigan State @ Northwestern

Speaking of Dantonio, who leads Sparty against the defending Big Ten West champs. Dantonio went 18-17 from 2004-2006, with Narduzzi as his DC. Dantonio is the last coach to lose to Miami (2005) and helped the Bearcats with the transition from C-USA to Big East in 2005.

Notre Dame @ Georgia

I personally am not bitter about Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame, but does anyone really want to root for the Irish Saturday night?

Kelly went 34-6 in three years with Cincinnati, winning 2 Big East titles and earning appearances in the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The Bearcats have a scheduled game in South Bend for 2021.

Current Cincinnati Offensive Coordinator Mike Denbrock worked under Kelly at Notre Dame from 2010-2016, before joining Cincinnati.

Central Michigan vs Miami

Miami Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos coached QBs at Cincinnati from 2004-2005 under Mark Dantonio. He followed Dantonio to Michigan State in 2006 when Dantonio left UC. Dantonio was replaced by Central Michigan coach Brian Kelly. Kelly left after the 2009 season and was replaced by his replacement at CMU, Butch Jones. Jones was replaced by Dan Enos, who coached the Chippewas from 2010-2014.

Cincinnati QB Coach (and QB legend) Gino Guidugli got his coaching start at Central Michigan, working there from 2010-2017, before coming “home”.

Auburn vs Texas A&M

Texas A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher spent one year at Cincinnati, as the Offensive Coordinator/QB coach in 1999, the year Cincinnati beat Wisconsin as noted above.

Hampton @ Liberty

Hampton is coached by Robert Prunty, who was a defensive assistant for Cincinnati from 2013-2016 under Tommy Tuberville. His WR Coach is legendary Cincy WR Armon Binns. Fun fact, Hampton’s QB is Deandre Francois, who transferred from Florida State.

CB Christian Angulo, a member of the Bearcats’ 2015 recruiting class, left for Hampton last off-season and already has 2 interceptions in 2019. Cincinnati essentially traded out Angula with a CB from Hampton - Aulden Knight.

Cincinnati Wide Receivers Coach Mike Brown was a star wide receiver at Liberty from 2009-2011 and coached there in 2018, before coming to Cincinnati.

Keeping Tabs on 2019 Schedule

UCLA @ Washington State

It’s good to keep tabs on the teams Cincinnati beat, to benefit overall perception and strength of schedule. Bearcats won 24-14 in week 1. Bruins are 0-3 with a good shot at falling to 0-4.

As a reminder, UCLA is 0-4 the last three years between basketball and football (I know everyone knows this, it’s just fun to say out loud over and over).

Miami OH @ Ohio State

As long as this game is worse than 42-0, Cincinnati fans should be happy. Bearcats beat Miami 35-13 in week 3, to keep the Victory Bell for the 14th straight season.

Old Big East Friends

Louisville vs Florida State

With much talk about the future of the Miami series, one constant has been the reminder of what the series with Louisville used to be and used to mean. The series dates back to 1929 and essentially concluded with the end of the Big East, with Louisville winning the last game in 2013. Cincinnati owns the all-time series lead 30-22-1, but will never again own the Keg.

Willie Taggart coached at USF for four years (2013-2016) and went 3-1 against Cincinnati. In the Bearcats defense, these were the Tuberville days so that explains the losses.

West Virginia vs Kansas

Cincinnati has only beaten West Virginia 3 times in 20 all-time meetings. The first win came in 2003 and the most recent were in 2008 and 2009, the years Cincinnati won the Big East Championship.

Boston College vs Rutgers

Cincinnati recently scheduled a future home-and-home series with Boston College for 2026-2027.

There is a lot of history with Rutgers from their overlapping time in the Big East. There was the win over undefeated #7 in 2006 and that sparked a five game winning streak against them that we documented before this season.

Bowl Game History

Utah State vs San Diego State

Aztecs beat the Bearcats in the Hawaii Bowl in 2015. Everything about this was a disaster. Cincy lost 42-7. It was their last bowl loss and came to the end of a disappointing 7-6 Tommy Tuberville season.

In 1997, Cincinnati, led by Rick Minter, snapped a 47 year bowl drought and beat Utah State 35-19 in the Humanitarian Bowl.

We asked Coach Minter about this on this week’s Podcast (20:00 mark)

Appalachian State vs North Carolina

One year after winning the Belk Bowl in 2012, Cincinnati returned to Charlotte and lost to UNC in Tuberville’s first bowl game at UC.

Toledo vs Colorado State

In Sid Gillman’s first season at Cincinnati, he led them to the school’s second ever bowl, beating Toledo in the 1949 Glass Bowl.

In 2001, these teams met again, with Cincinnati losing in the Motor City Bowl.

For Colorado State, their Defensive Coordinator John Jancek was DC at Cincinnati (co-DC for two years), serving under Butch Jones from 2010-2012. Jancek enters his second season with the Rams, whose defense was ranked 108th in 2018.

Western Michigan vs Syracuse

Dantonio left after the 2006 season and because of the timing of the International Bowl game (early January), it gave new coach Brian Kelly enough time to get situated and coach his team from the sidelines. Cincinnati beat Western Michigan in the inaugural game. Big East teams were 4-0 all-time in the International Bowl, which was discontinued in 2010.

UTSA vs North Texas

Rick Minter’s last winning season was 2002, when Bearcats ended the season in the New Orleans Bowl. UNT won 24-19.

AAC

Temple vs Buffalo

Bearcats have lost 4 in a row to Temple, and host the Owls on 11/23 for Senior Night.

The only connection to Buffalo is that Jeff Quinn, who was an assistant coach during the Brian Kelly years and served as Interim Head Coach for the Sugar Bowl, coached Buffalo after that season and stayed from 2010-2014, going 20-36.

Wyoming vs Tulsa

Cincinnati has only played Tulsa twice since the Hurricanes joined the AAC and have split each meeting, with the home teams winning in 2015 and 2016. Cincinnati hosts Tulsa on 10/19 - the 2009 Cincinnati team will be honored during halftime of that game.

Wyoming is best known as one of the 50 states, but it is also a town in Ohio. It’s where Evan Prater is from. Prater is a 4 star prospect, the #9 ranked dual-threat QB in the 2020 class and has already committed to Cincinnati.

Houston vs Tulane

Cincinnati has faced Houston coach Dana Holgorsen once, in his debut season at West Virginia in 2011. Cincinnati travels to Houston on 10/12, the week after playing UCF.

Bearcats do not play Tulane this season and trail the all-time series 11-6, but have won the last three in a row, dating back to Tulane’s arrival in the AAC.

UConn vs Indiana

LB Darrian Beavers led UConn in sacks in 2018 with 4.5. He transferred to Cincinnati before the 2019 season and has started all three games so far at linebacker. Beavers has 4 tackles and no sacks so far.

William & Mary vs East Carolina

Cincinnati plays at ECU on 11/2. Bearcats are just 9-13 all-time vs ECU, but won last year’s game 56-6. They lost 48-20 in their last trip to Greenville in 2017.

More on weekend of AAC

Other Games

Elon vs Wake Forest

The year after winning the International Bowl, their QB was Ben Mauk, who transferred in from Wake Forest.

Former UC linebacker Ty Sponseller left Cincinnati last summer and transferred to Elon. He was the 94th ranked OLB in the 2016 class and 63rd ranked player from Ohio.

Central Arkansas vs Hawaii

Cincinnati last played against Hawaii in 2008, right before playing in the Orange Bowl. The last time they played at Hawaii was in the previously mentioned Hawaii Bowl in 2015.

Two former Central Arkansas football players are Memphis coach Mike Norvell and South Florida coach Charlie Strong - Cincinnati faces both coaches in road games in the second half of the 2019 season.

Sacramento State vs Fresno State

During week 1 of the 2010 season, Cincinnati lost in Butch Jones’ UC head coaching debut at Fresno State. Fresno State previously came to Nippert Stadium the year prior, losing to Cincinnati during their 12-0 regular season.

FIU vs Louisiana Tech

Bob Diaco is Louisiana Tech’s Defensive Coordinator. He served as Defensive Coordinator at Cincinnati in 2009, during the 12-0 regular season.

Bowling Green vs Kent State

Cincy CB Cam Jefferies has 6 tackles in 2019 and has one interception in 2018, his first season after transferring from Bowling Green.

Cincinnati Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman coached Linebackers at Kent State from 2011-2012. Special Teams Coach Brian Mason coached at Kent State in 2012.

Before coming back to his alma mater in 2018, Mike Mickens coached Cornerbacks at Bowling Green from 2014-2017.

UC RBs Coach Doug Philips worked on the defensive side at Bowling Green from 2007-2008.

South Alabama vs UAB

The last time Cincinnati played UAB was 2004, when both were members of Conference USA. They played 8 times between 1996-2004, and Cincy has won 5 times, but UAB won the final two meetings in 2003-2004.

Kentucky vs Mississippi State

At Kentucky, Eddie Gran is Assistant Head Coach/RB coach and Darin Hinshaw is co-Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach. Both guys coached together on Cincinnati’s coaching staff from 2013-15. Hinshaw’s official title was passing game coordinator and QBs coach and Gran was Offensive Coordinator. They have been together at Kentucky since 2016.

In 2012, Cincinnati beat Fordham 49-17 to open the season 5-0 and earned the #21 ranking in the polls. Fordham coached by Joe Morehead, now at Mississippi State. That Fordham team went 6-5 and he would go on to lead them to the FCS Playoffs each of the next three years before getting the Mississippi State job in 2018.

South Carolina vs Missouri

Derek Dooley is the Offensive Coordinator at Missouri. He was the Head Coach at Tennessee during the aforementioned Vols victory over the Bearcats in 2011. Dooley’s incompetence and difficult run led to his firing, which ultimately led to Tennessee poaching Butch Jones from Cincinnati after the 2012 season.

New Mexico State vs New Mexico

New Mexico coach Bob Davie was hospitalized after the team’s week 1 win and he will not be on the sidelines for this week’s rivarly game. Before Davie took the job at New Mexico, he was commentating for ESPN and called the Cincinnati/Oklahoma game that took place in Paul Brown Stadium in 2010. He referred to the crowd as “an SEC environment”.

San Jose State vs Arkansas

WR Mekale McKay committed to Arkansas and played 12 games in 2012, before transferring to Cincinnati and playing 33 games from 2013-2015. McKay caught 108 passes for 2,034 yards, and 19 touchdown passes. During some difficult years, McKay was always an offensive bright spot for the Bearcats.

Nebraska vs Illinois

Bearcats beat Illinois 49-36, the day after Thanksgiving in 2009, before the famous Pitt game to win the Big East Championship. The return game took place in 2013, and sadly was the game where former QB Munchie Legaux broke his leg.

Cincinnati lost to UCF in 2016-2017, when the Knights were coached by Scott Frost, now at Nebraska. Frost’s Huskers host Cincinnati on September 26, 2020.

Southern Illinois vs Arkansas State

Bearcats have faced Arkansas State twice - losing in 1975 and winning in 1998. Former Cincinnati QB Ross Trail left the Bearcats after 2017 to play for Arkansas State but has never taken a snap for them.

Nevada vs UTEP

Cincinnati won both games of a home-and-home in 1950 and 1951 against UTEP.

Nevada is a school that we do not talk about on this website...

Morgan State vs Army

Cincinnati has played Army 6 times, with each team winning 3 games. Army won the most recent meeting in West Point in 2004.

Louisiana-Monroe vs Iowa State

Cincinnati has never played Iowa State in football, though they did split a home-and-home series in basketball recently.

Cincinnati is 5-0 all-time vs Louisiana-Monroe, with the most recent win coming in 2001. The average score of the 5 wins is 36-7.

Coastal Carolina vs UMass

UMass’ first year Head Coach Walt Bell was the TE Coach for UNC when the Tar Heels beat Cincinnati in the 2013 Belk Bowl.

Louisiana vs Ohio

Cincinnati has a slight 25-23 all-time lead over Ohio. Bearcats won via a miraculous comeback in week 4 last year vs Ohio. Bearcats won in large part due to a goal-line interception by James Wiggins.

Troy vs Akron

Luke Fickell has spent his entire career, really life, in the state of Ohio. Before coming to UC he coached all but two years at Ohio State. Those two years were spent at Akron from 2000-2001 as DL Coach.

Central Connecticut State vs Eastern Michigan

Cincinnati won a thrilling game against Eastern Michigan in 2005, in the only meeting between schools. Cincy won 28-26, when Eastern Michigan ended the game with a turnover on downs. As a team, Cincinnati ran for 293 yards thanks to RBs Bradley Glathaar, Butler Benton, Mike Daniels and Greg Moore

Ball State vs NC State

Cincinnati recently set up a two game series with NC State where they go to Raleigh in 2023 and NC State comes to Nippert in 2029.

These teams split the last series they had, with Wolfpack, lead by QB Russell Wilson, winning in Raleigh on a Thursday night in 2010. And the Bearcats returning the favor against QB Mike Glennon in Cincinnati in 2011.

Georgia State vs Texas State

Texas State first year head coach Jake Spavital was QB coach at West Virginia when the Mountaineers beat the Bearcats in 2011.

Not football, but the last NCAA Tournament game the Cincinnati men’s basketball team won was in 2017, against Georgia State in the first round.

Baylor vs Rice

Baylor coach Matt Rhule coached at Temple from 2013-2016 and went 2-2 against Cincinnati, losing the first two, before winning his last two.

Cincinnati and Rice have played once - a 28-21 Bearcats road win in 1974.

Wagner vs FAU

I have to be honest. I failed. And I lied in the intro when I said 58 games. I couldn’t find a connection of any type between Cincinnati and Wagner or Florida Atlantic. If anyone has one please comment below or message me personally!