Cincinnati improved from Nr. 5 to No. 4 in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff Rankings and the Bearcats will put their unbeaten record to the test on Friday as the team travels to take on East Carolina.
The Bearcats are the first non-Power 5 team since 2014 to beat the top 4 in CFP history, and head coach Luke Fickell said on ESPN’s CFP Show after the announcement of the rankings that he thinks it’s “amazing.”
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“I think it’s great for our entire team, our program, our community, and our campus,” Fickell said of Cincinnati’s No. 4 ranking. “We know, and we keep trying to emphasize to our boys, that we have a way to go, and we have two really big fights on the way here. All in all, the excitement of it and the recognition is well deserved for a group. of guys who have really struggled and fought all year. “
On its way into the fight against the Pirates, Fickell and the Bearcats lead the 3-1 series, with the ECU winning in 2017 and Cincinnati winning victories in 2018-2020. But Fickell knows East Carolina will try to extend its American Athletic Conference winning streak to five in a row, as the Pirates’ longest run of single-season success in its AAC history, producing the program’s first 4-0 AAC home record ever. when it hosts No. 4 Cincinnati.
“They are a really good football team. They are really balanced in what they do, run and throw,” he said. “If you look back a few years ago, they threw after a boatload of yards. Last year, I thought we did a pretty decent job, but they actually ran the ball well. As you can really see them evolving now, strikes you put it on and you can see that they are running the football. “
The team will have to keep an eye on ECU runner Keaton Mitchell, who leads the AAC with 1,077 yards rushing and in all-purpose yards with 1,335 yards.
“… And then all of a sudden you look down there and [Holton Ahlers] also has 400 yards to throw in a game, “Fickell said. “So I think that’s what you’re seeing. The balance is why they are where they are.”
Fickell said the pirates have also done a good job in the defense.
“That’s what it takes. It’s not like a one-sided team going out and having a 600-yard offense, but they do not have the balance on the other side,” he said. “But it’s the same way where they’re not going to throw for 400 but can not run football. The better teams have balance in what they do at the end of the year and that’s what they’ve done. “
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