ATHENS – Cincinnati football is going big game this bowl season to see what it would do be the first New Year’s Six Bowl trophy in the program.
At the same time, the Bearcats would immediately gain credibility and with a perfect 10-0 record would have the right to declare themselves as uncrowned champions.
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Cincinnati’s manager Luke Fickell wasn’t shy about sharing his team’s intent with Georgia’s Kirby Smart when he made the same Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl zoom call this week.
The game will take place on January 1st at 12:30 p.m. in Atlanta.
“It’s huge for our program and it’s a dipstick, just right,” said Fickel. “If you’re saying that you should have an opportunity and you should have a shot, this is an opportunity, this is a shot.”
The Bearcats are in 8th place and the Bulldogs in 9th place, but the programs had decidedly different seasons.
Cincinnati’s success came when its conference commissioner Mike Aresco challenged the CFP committee in a way that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey never did when Georgia erroneously got out of the “four best” equation in 2018.
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“I never thought I’d say it, but if this continues I would say we’re bringing the BCS and computers back because it would be a more equitable system than what I’m seeing now,” said Aresco. “This is the seventh year and it seems that the deck is stacked against us and against other G4’s.
“I think the committee is honestly undermining its credibility with the rankings, which for me are contrary to logic, common sense and fairness.”
Bearcats Sporting Director John Cunningham also took to the ESPN stage.
“It’s hard to be perfect and we had to prove ourselves nine times and we did it. We passed the test every time,” said Cunningham. “I would do our eye test against almost anyone. You go back and look at the games we played, the teams we beat, and how we beat those teams.
“You have to give these schools the opportunity to prove themselves at the highest level.”
Georgia, with the longest active bowl series in the nation (24) and playing at the elite New Years Six Bowl level for the fourth year in a row, is the highest tier in college football.
It has become so much of the norm for coach Kirby Smart’s program to play at this level that some team captains have chosen to play the team’s bowl game for three consecutive seasons.
This season’s senior class has a chance to break the record for being the most successful in school history, but as of this writing, five of the seven senior starters have reportedly withdrawn.
This includes Georgia’s only all-SEC first-team offensive player (Ben Cleveland).
Georgia fans could declare Cincinnati a loss due to wear and tear if the Bearcats bag the Bulldogs on New Years Day.
But national perception would change, and there would be no asterisk engraved on Cincinnati’s first six-bowl win after losing the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.
“We are incredibly happy and excited to be where we are,” said Fickell. His bearcats foamed at the mouth to see the Bulldogs in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on national television.
“To have an (AAC) championship and have a challenge with Coach Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs.”
No doubt it is a benchmark for Cincinnati and an opportunity to record a historic victory over Georgian football.
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