Nov 29, 2019; Memphis, TN, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell prior to the game against the Memphis Tigers at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

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No. 14 Cincinnati hosts No. 22 Army in early test

Cincinnati is off to a good start and expectations are rising for the Bearcats. Things have also gone well early on for Army, setting up a surprising Top-25 matchup in Ohio on Saturday.

The undefeated No. 14 Bearcats host the 22nd-ranked Black Knights on Saturday.

While much is unique and fluid amid this uncertain 2020 college football season, each program understands the importance of its strong start.

Cincinnati, where the program has 16 starters back from 2019 and is eager to build on two straight 11-win seasons, felt strongly it would make some noise in 2020.

“You believe you’ve got a really good opportunity with the guys you got,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “You’re kind of anxious to see what it’s really going to look like.”

Fickell liked the initial viewing of his squad in a 55-20 opening win over Austin Peay last week. Desmond Ridder went 13-of-19 passing for 196 yards with two touchdowns and also ran for 57, while senior running back Gerrid Doaks scored four touchdowns as the Bearcats amassed 525 yards.

They also didn’t allow a touchdown until the game was well out of reach in the fourth quarter.

In all, 10 different Cincinnati players carried the ball while eight caught at least one pass. Though that’s not surprising during a rout of an FCS squad, it was a pleasant sign for Fickell when looking at the big picture.

“I truly do believe that these guys understand the unselfishness it takes to be a great team,” Fickell added.

Army (2-0) has looked much better than the team that finished 5-8 in 2019. In wins over Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe, the Knights posted a 79-7 scoring advantage. As per standard, Army dominated the ground game through the option attack with 779 rushing yards.

Quarterback Christian Anderson and running backs Jakobi Buchanan and Tyrell Robinson have gained 408 of those rushing yards and totaled five touchdowns. Sandon McCoy has already scored four of Army’s 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Defensively, Army has yielded 384 total yards against two schools that are a combined 0-4. A greater challenge is ahead this weekend against a more complete team than the two the Knights have faced to this point in 2020.

Army last started 3-0 during the 2016 season.

“So there’s things that (we’ve) done really well, but there’s a lot of things that we need to do better, and we’re going to have to do all of those things where we’re feeling like we’re falling a little short, a whole lot better against Cincinnati,” Army coach Jeff Monken said.

“(Cincinnati) is an outstanding football team, Top-25 team, well coached, veteran guys.”

Since the 1996 season, Army is 0-20 against opponents ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. The Knights are also looking to avoid a fifth consecutive road defeat.

Cincinnati has lost 15 of its last 16 games against ranked teams. The lone win for the Bearcats came over then-No. 18 UCF at home last season.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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