After becoming the first Group of Five program to make the college football playoffs, the Bearcats are hoping to keep the momentum going into next season. Luke Fickell’s team will travel to Arkansas in September for a highly anticipated duel before a trio of games against Kennesaw State, Miami (Ohio) and Indiana in Cincinnati.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the Bearcats’ upcoming non-conference schedule.
Week 1 in Arkansas
September 3 (Razorback Stadium)
Cincinnati will start the regular season with a difficult journey to take on the Razorbacks. Arkansas has a talented team coming back and will be backed by veteran quarterback KJ Jefferson, Oklahoma transfer wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and linebackers Bumper Pool and Drew Sanders. The Bearcats quarterback, whether it’s Evan Prater or Ben Bryant, will face a tough challenge in his starting debut on the road against ESPN’s 20th-ranked team last season.
Arkansas is an 8-point favorite per Action Network.
Week 2 vs. Kennesaw State
10 September (Nippert Stadium)
The following week, Cincinnati hosts Kennesaw State in the home opener at Nippert Stadium. Kennesaw State was one of the best FCS teams in the country last year, going 11-2 and winning 10 straight games before losing to East Tennessee State in the second round of the playoffs. While the Bearcats are likely a double-digit favorite, they shouldn’t take their opponent lightly and allow them to hang around. It will be the first-ever matchup between the two programs.
Week 3 vs. Miami (Ohio)
September 17 (Paul Brown Stadium)
The Bearcats won’t technically be playing Miami, Ohio, on their home turf, but the game will be played in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium in mid-September. With the exception of 2020, these two teams have played every season since 1945 and have completed a remarkable 111 previous encounters, the most against any other team in Cincinnati school history. Though the Bearcats have won 15 straight matchups with Miami, the Bearcats are 54-53-4 against their home-state rival.
Cincinnati beat Miami 49-14 in the 2021 season opener.
Week 4 vs. Indiana
24 September (Nippert Stadium
In the last week of September, the Bearcats will host Big Ten nemesis Indiana to complete the non-conference list. Cincinnati took to the streets and defeated the Hoosiers 38-24 last year, so Tom Allen’s team will be focused on getting revenge. Indiana no longer has quarterback Michael Penix Jr., instead it has Connor Bazelak, who transferred from Missouri and is expected to win the job over Jack Tuttle. Former Auburn running back Shaun Shivers is also a player to watch with the Hoosiers.
After the game with Indiana, the Bearcats begin the American Conference away game against Tulsa on October 1. Seven days later, South Florida will be coming to town for the homecoming on Oct. 8 ahead of bye week. It’s possible for Cincinnati to go undefeated against non-conference opponents for a third straight season, but Arkansas and Indiana should be competitive matchups.