Can Tommy Tubberville turn the Bearcats into more than a one-dimensional threat?
Cincinnati ended up last season at 9-4, an impressive feat considering that following a 55-34 defeat at the hands of UM on 10/11, their defense was dead last in the country in yards allowed.
Tubberville's squad suffered heavy losses on both side of the ball due to injuries, making their record even more a testament to their will and his coaching.
However, when they faced the better opponents on their schedule (Ohio State, Miami, Virginia Tech), their flaws were magnified and they had a very tough time competing.
In order to make strides as a program, and perhaps give the aforementioned Hurricanes (October 1st, 7:30 PM ESPN at Cincy) some trouble this time around, they need to do a much better job stopping opponents.
Offensively they should be just fine with the return of junior QB Gunner Kiel.
Kiel was outstanding last season, putting up 3,254 yards, 31 TDs, and a respectable 13 INTs, while completing 60 percent of his passes.
But he could be even better in 2015.
The question, will the Bearcats do enough on defense to support him, and lead the program back to a potential Top 25 finish?
These teams haven't met often,but UM has dominated to the tune of an 11-1 advantage,
Last season's victory for the 'Canes was the first meeting between the schools since 1998.
Brad Kaaya had no issues against CU, tossing for 286 yards and 3 scores in the blowout.
Players to Watch
The strong armed Kiel is the key figure for the Cincinnati offense.
He has some nice weapons around him though, including a trifecta of solid receivers in Shaq Washington, Mekale McKay, and Chris Moore.
All went for over 600 yards last year, and all are proven, so Corn Elder, Tracy Howard, and Artie Burns will need to be on their respective games.
RB Mike Boone will lead the ground game, but this team will do its' most damage through the air.
Defensively the Bearcats have a ton of work to do.
And they will no longer have their best LB in Jeff Luc around, as he has graduated.
They do have a pretty good S in Zach Edwards back. He will spearhead an experienced secondary. However if Edwards records anywhere near the 121 tackles he amassed in 2014, the D will once again be in trouble.
Silverberry Mouhon (4 sacks) is the best returning player among the front 7.
But let's face it, given the problems they had last year defending the speed of Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, Miami stars Joe Yearby, Mark Walton, and Stacy Coley among others, could be in for huge games.
If you look at both rosters, the 'Canes have the better team on both sides of the ball, despite Cincy's immense potential on offense.
But this is a road game, and in prime time.
And if it turns into a shoot out, it could favor Kiel and the Cats.
To me, the game will come down to turnovers. Cincinnati's abysmal defense should not be able to stop Miami, unless they turn the ball over.
UM on the other hand could come up with a few key stops, especially if the pass rush led by Tyriq McCord, Al-Quadin Muhammad, and Chad Thomas shows up.
Deon Bush and his ability to separate ball carriers from the rock, could also be huge in this one.
Bottom line, if Miami plays even close to their potential, this should be one they come away victorious in.