When the horns rang out at the University of Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl’s 24-21 loss to Georgia at the University of Cincinnati, dreams of disrupting a national power were postponed.
“It’s very disappointing when you get that close, but we’re not disappointed,” said Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell. “Georgia, it doesn’t matter what conference you were at, no matter what ‘P’ was before or after your name. This is a great football team and we love the challenge. “
The Athletic’s Justin Williams says the Bearcats (9-1) season was still a special one.
“Winning a conference title, which was a big deal for them, they haven’t done under Fickell. It was a goal to go undefeated during the regular conference season and be the top-ranked group of five teams to have ever made college football playoffs, “Williams said.
The season was also challenging: COVID-19 changed the schedule and postponed several games. The Bearcats held out.
“You will never know how proud we are of the way you have dealt with such a situation, like all year,” said Fickell.
UC stepped into national talk this season and wants to get into the playoffs, and radio personality ESPN 1530, Mo Egger, said 2021 could offer that opportunity.
“What will be interesting in the next season will improve the quality of the competition,” said Egger. “You will go to Notre Dame.” You’re going to go to Indiana. “
This off-season brings with it a lot of questions. Several key players, including All-American Safety James Wiggins, All-American Offensive Lineman James Hudson, Safety Darrick Forrest, Elijah Ponder, and Kicker James Smith, all declared for the NFL Draft; Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is getting interested in head coaching and Power 5 conference jobs, and that may not be all.
“If Desmond Ridder comes back, that will help,” said Williams. “People like Myjai Sanders when they come back will give them a lot more opportunity to continue what they did this year.”
After another strong recruiting class, the foundation is laid for a bright future under Luke Fickell.
“We know what we need to achieve and then we have to take a few more steps,” said Fickell.