The 2020 American Athletic Conference football schedules was released on Tuesday afternoon.
Let’s take a look at the highlights for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
SCHEDULE RELEASE— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) February 18, 2020
Update your calendars, the 2020 #Bearcats football schedule is !
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Bearcats will play a number of games on national television, giving them a nice platform and great exposure to the program. They play a Friday night against Western Michigan and a Thursday night against ECU, both games on ESPN. It’s highly likely, ESPN will pick up the games against Memphis and UCF. Nebraska, SMU, and Houston are all options for a channel greater than CBS Sports Net as well.
Cincinnati hosts ECU the Thursday before going to UCF on 11/21. Those extra two days, especially so late in the season, could certainly be beneficial. Bearcats also have a well-timed off week after hosting USF week 6. That off week falls right before the Bearcats begin a stretch of back-to-back road games at Tulsa and SMU on 10/14 and 10/21.
Cincinnati went 13-3 against UConn in their 15 years together across two conferences (Big East and AAC - played one OOC game in 2001). Cincinnati won the last two years by a combined score of 97-10.
UConn is going Independent in football as their basketball team returns to the Big East. UConn was mostly dead weight and devalued the conference’s metrics across the board, so their departure will greatly benefit the conference as a whole. Addition by subtraction.
Possibility of College Gameday?
For those who dream of Lee Corso donning a Bearcats mascot head outside of Nippert Stadium, there is one realistic chance - on Halloween against Memphis.
This game is a rematch of last year’s AAC Championship Game, featuring two teams that won a combined 24 games in 2019.
Seeing an AAC host the hit ESPN show is not that unusual - Memphis actually hosted Gameday in 2019, against SMU, and UCF hosted in 2018, against Cincinnati.
Cincinnati’s toughest competition prior to this game will be road games against Nebraska, Tulsa, and SMU. While Memphis plays at Purdue, at SMU, and hosts UCF prior to coming to Nippert.
The other factor, of course, is the rest of the week’s schedule. The best game, on paper, is Florida vs Georgia. This game is played on a neutral site in Jacksonville, and actually hosted Gameday two years ago. It’s possible they could repeat the site. But, it’s not the most exciting host due to the location.
Elsewhere around the SEC, Alabama and LSU are both off, in the week prior to playing each other. Auburn plays at Mississippi State and there is an outside possibility, if Mike Leach’s team gets off to a fast start, the Bulldogs could host.
The top teams in the Big Ten play lesser teams with Wisconsin hosting Illinois, Minnesota going to Michigan State, Ohio State hosting Nebraska, Penn State going to Indiana.
In the Big 12, Baylor plays at Texas and Oklahoma plays at TCU. It’s not impossible to think one of these games could feature teams unbeaten or with 1 loss at this point.
There is nothing appealing about the PAC-12 and ACC schedules that day, even if you use your imagination to find some outside-the-box teams who may be good.
There is definitely some exciting appeal to the teams that come to Nippert Stadium, including defending conference champions Memphis. The last time the conference champs came to Nippert, UCF left with a loss last season.
One problem with the home schedule is that three of the Bearcats’ home games are on weekdays, leaving just 3 on Saturdays. The first Saturday game isn’t until USF week 5 on 10/3. Opening night is a Thursday against Austin Peay and week 2 is a Friday against Western Michigan. WMU game offers additional exposure, not competing for headlines against a full schedule, but still disappointing for locals who also have ties to high school football. The home finale and senior night will be 11/12 against East Carolina, on a Thursday night.
Weeknight games are great for exposure, great for TV, but sometimes unfortunate for season ticket holders with young kids or folks who don’t work around the corner from Clifton.
Everyone that wants to be there will make it work, but it’s not the most convenient situation.