Preseason College Football Top 25: #22 Cincinnati
Why They’re Here: Zach Collaros showed everyone last year that he could step in for Tony Pike without missing a beat. The Bearcats know that they’ve got a quarterback that can play and in college football, that’s 90 percent of the battle. But the other 10 percent of the battle can be the difference between a bowl in January and a bowl in December. The Bearcats lost a lot of talent this offseason and assembling a team that can produce for Collaros is going to be tough.
The Good: With a solid quarterback in place, it’s easy for a team to come together. This team also has something to prove after the beating they suffered at the hands of Tim Tebow and the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. The Bearcats also return eight starters on offense, including a lot of key skill position guys. The offense should be firing on all cylinders when the season opens up against Fresno State. Let’s not forget that this is a team that went 12-0 in the regular season last year.
The Bad: Too many loses. In addition to Tony Pike, the Bearcats lost WR Mardy Gilyard, C Chris Jurek and most importantly head coach Brian Kelly. They also lost LB Demetrius Jones for the season because of academic trouble. The defense is only bringing back five starters and they weren’t exactly intimidating last year. The Bearcats and the entire Big East lost a lot of respect when Florida steamrolled them in the Sugar Bowl and they’re going to have to put together some impressive victories to get the voters to respect them in December. It’ll start on September 25 against Oklahoma.
The Last Word: If their defense can stop West Virginia and Pitt’s rushing attacks, they could legitimately win the Big East again. If Collaros can be exceptional – I’m talking Heisman exceptional – the Bearcats really have a shot at challenging for a BCS spot. . I don’t know that I see either of those things happening, but if they do watch out.
Final Record: 9-4