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AAC: Bearcats regroup for short week

Cincinnati UCF Football-4

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) scrambles for yardage in front of Central Florida defensive lineman Joey Connors (91) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Cincinnati Bearcats do not have much time to sulk after losing their marquee game of the college football season, and head coach Luke Fickell was mindful of that on Monday morning, just four days in advance of his team’s home kickoff against East Carolina on Black Friday.

The Bearcats (9-2, 5-2 American Athletic Conference) lost their league showdown against undefeated Central Florida last Saturday, but Fickell was mindful during the weekly AAC coaches teleconference that his team has a lot remaining on its season to-do list.

One of those things is the chance to become one of the only Cincy teams since the 1800s to eclipse 10 wins in a season.

“We didn’t play well in any of the three phases. Not to take credit away from them because they outplayed us in all three phases,” Fickell said of the unbeaten Knights. “But we get a short week and we’ve got to come back, regroup and gather ourselves and give our team and our program and our seniors an opportunity.

“There’s only been six times since 1885 that a team here at UC has had 10 or more wins.”

Battered Cougs

Houston (8-3, 5-2) enters the final week of the regular season still in the driver’s seat for a title game appearance against UCF after a West Division win over Tulane last week.

The division-leading Cougars face one more regular season clash at Memphis, and they will take the field with a decidedly modified lineup that is likely to be missing injured star quarterback D’Eriq King and possibly star defensive lineman Ed Oliver, who had a heated exchange with coach Major Applewhite on the sideline despite not playing in the game against Tulane.

Applewhite expects his team to take the multiple injuries in stride.

“I haven’t really felt it from the team in terms of, ‘Oh no, what do we do?,’” he said of the missing King, who injured his knee against the Green Wave. “That’s not at all the vibe I get from my team. The vibe I get from our guys is next man up, we’ve dealt with this before. We’ve won games without other key players in our lineup there.”

As for Oliver, Applewhite said he expected the defensive centerpiece to practice again on Monday, but said the player remains day to day.

Wide-open Huskies

Last weekend’s ECU thrashing of Connecticut left little doubt about which team is the worst in the American this season.

The battle between the league’s winless teams ended as just another blowout loss for the Huskies (1-10, 0-7) and head coach Randy Edsall. As his team started another week searching for answers, Edsall said there is really nothing his team has not tried, and that no approach or gamble has been out of the question this season.

“We’ve been doing that all year long,” said Edsall, whose team closes out another losing campaign on Saturday against surging Temple at home. “You notice how we go for it on fourth down as much as we do. We’re still trying to build our program. We’ve still got a ways to go. When you’re playing as many young kids as we’re playing, it’s not going to be good. But they’re the best guys we have right now, and they’ve never played this many games or gone this long in a season. They’re not big enough, not strong enough yet, but they’re trying.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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