Head coach: Fickell (4-8, second year)
2017 record and S&P+ ranking: 4-8 (102nd)
Projected 2018 record and S&P+ ranking: 6-6 (88th)
Five key points:
Fickell was hired to stockpile talent, and he’s doing so: Cincy has the best two-year recruiting in the Group of 5.
He inherited a two-deep with pretty significant class imbalance, having to replace quite a few seniors on offense this year and on defense next year. Barring an extreme youth movement, it’ll take a while to balance that out.
The offense improved late in 2017 and returns senior QB Hayden Moore and a pair of high-upside sophomore RBs in Gerrid Doaks and Michael Warren II. But the line is rebuilding.
The linebacking corps will be a strong anchor for the run defense, but a poor pass rush, iffy safety play, and extreme youth at cornerback will probably lead to lots of passing yards.
Even with only marginal improvement, a bowl bid is a realistic goal.