Fifth-year Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, the AAC Coach of the Year, said prepping for Houston’s aggressiveness on defense can be a challenge.
It’s hard sometimes to simulate the speed and the aggressiveness of what they do, especially with their guys up front,” he said.
Cincinnati is hoping to extend its home winning streak to 27 games, which also would mean a second consecutive conference championship and 17th in program history. The AAC championship game appearance is UC’s third straight. Houston is the third consecutive different opponent the Bearcats have faced after losing at Memphis in 2019 and beating Tulsa at Nippert in 2020
“This is everything that we’ve worked an entire year for,” Fickell said. “This is something that our guys have made an objective, and we’ve got to make sure that we are not denied nor distracted by all the different things, and there’s a lot of things – not just things with me, but with all of our guys. Obviously, Houston is a great football team. To me, as well-balanced of a football team as we’ve played all year, offense, defense, and special teams. You guys can look at the stats and see that stuff, they’re as complete a team as we’ve played all year, and that’s why it’s going to be huge. This is another opportunity for our seniors – not just our seniors. I always say our seniors, but for our entire program to play in front of an incredible crowd and student section with an opportunity to win a championship at home. Those things obviously don’t come around all that often, and to actually do it at home, obviously there aren’t a whole lot of conferences that have that.
“We have got a challenge – an 11-1 Houston team that lost game one and has run off 11-straight. It’s going to be an incredible challenge with a coach that I think has done as good a job all year as (Houston coach) Dana Holgorsen has. I don’t know where everybody had them picked and ranked to start the season, but what they have done this year, to watch them grow as a football team and program, is really impressive. We’ve got to make sure, no matter what, every one of our kids and every one of our coaches understands that this is what we’ve worked an entire year for and nothing, nothing, can keep us from doing what we need to do. That has a lot to do with not just playing on Saturday, but has more to do with the preparation it takes to win a championship.”
Houston at Cincinnati, 4 p.m., ABC, 700