Zach Collaros inherits the QB job left open by Tony Pike’s departure.
For the first time in the history of the program, the Cincinnati Bearcats completed an undefeated regular season in 2009. In spite of that, the year still ended on a low note as head coach Brian Kelly left the squad for Notre Dame and the team was destroyed by the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.
Just as Kelly came from Central Michigan to Cincinnati, his successor with the Chippewas, Butch Jones, is now heading to the Bearcats to once again follow in his footsteps.
However, the cupboard is a bit drier for UC than it was last NCAAF College season. Quarterback Tony Pike threw for 2,520 yards and 29 TDs last year in limited time, but he is now in the NFL, while his most achieved receiver, Mardy Gilyard also graduated. Gilyard led the team with 87 catches, 1,191 yards, and 11 TDs.
The fourth-best scoring NCAA college football offense in the country (38.6 PPG) wasn't led by Pike the whole year in 2009. though. Quarterback Zach Collaros stepped into the starting lineup when Pike was nursing a midseason NCAAF college injury and was incredibly effective. He arguably was better than the senior leader of the team, completing 75.0 percent of his passes for 1,434 yards with ten TDs against just two INTs.
Both WRs Armon Binns and DJ Woods had solid years last year as well, and a lot of their production came with Collaros calling the shots. Binns had 61 receptions for 888 yards and 11 scores, while Woods had 640 yards on 51 catches, four of which went for TDs.
Duplicating 447.5 YPG is going to be difficult, but Collaros and the crew could be up to the task.
The defense might be a different issue. There are only five returning starters from the Bearcats defense and only one is a senior in the bunch. Jones knows that this could be a long season for his 'D', but last year wasn't fantastic either.
The Bearcats allowed 374.6 YPG and 23.1 PPG, neither one which ranked them in the Top 40 in the country in 2009.
The out of conference schedule could be a hassle for Cincinnati this year. Though NCAA college football betting battles against Indiana State and Miami Ohio aren't going to be difficult, the other games at Fresno State, NC State and home against Oklahoma are going to be interesting to say the least.
Last season, non-conference play had its ups and downs for UC. It did cover spreads against Southeast Missouri State and Oregon State without any issues, but after that, the team went 0-3 ATS in its three encounters outside the Big East. This included the defeat to Florida in New Orleans on New Year's Day. Two of those failed cover attempts came against oppoents on this year's schedule, Fresno State and Miami Ohio.
Inside Big East play, Cincinnati catches two major breaks. The first is that the game against Pittsburgh to end the season will be played at home. The second is that it only plays three road games during the conference slate, though encounters at West Virginia and Connecticut aren't going to be fun to say the least.
The Bearcats are the fourth choice to win the Big East on the NCAA college football betting lines. You can find them at Olympic Sportsbook at plus 500. Cincinnati is a plus 10000 long shot to win the National Championship, but it was a tremendous underdog at the outset of last season as well.
Cincinnati has the ability to make some real noise in the Big East this year, and if Collaros can keep the offense rolling, big things could be coming in Jones' first year with the Bearcats.