No. 8 Cincinnati took one small step within the course of playoff rivals on Saturday.

In two weeks, the Bearcats may need one completely different breakthrough second at No. 12 Notre Dame as they purpose to interrupt up the Power Five’s monopoly on College Football Playoff bids.

“I hope we’re past having to prove ourselves,” mentioned receiver Alec Pierce, who caught the go-ahead rating in Cincinnati’s 38-24 victory at Indiana. “But I think people are still going to doubt us, to view us as a Group of Five team.”

Coach Luke Fickell, the sooner Ohio State star, assistant and onetime interim coach, understands how far this program has come beneath his watch.

He has posted three good Septembers in 4 years and obtained 12 of his final 13 video video video games and 22 in a row at residence. He watched Cincinnati publish back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2018 and 2019 and has presided over 32 victories so far 3 1/4 seasons.

Yet the Bearcats’ resume was solely alright to get the American Athletic Conference champions into final season’s Peach Bowl, the place they misplaced 24-21 to Georgia in Atlanta.

So Cincinnati entered this season on a mission to remodel the doubters. Some critics docked the Bearcats for a sluggish begin within the course of Murray State in Week 2, dropping them from No. 7 to No. 8.

But after the Hoosiers used two first-half turnovers to take a 14-0 lead and linebacker Micah McFadden was ejected for specializing in late inside the primary half, Cincinnati took full administration on Saturday. It was sufficient to get Fickell concerned in a wild locker-room scene whereas rumors swirl about him being a candidate for the Southern California job.

Fickell has no notion of addressing the hypothesis now on account of there’s additional work to do at Cincinnati.

This week’s bye not solely provides the Bearcats (3-0) an opportunity to savor their win nonetheless two weeks to rearrange for arguably the most important sport at faculty historic earlier and maybe one completely different memorable victory celebration.

“I told the boys we’ll take a picture this week after we win and we’ll take a picture after the Notre Dame game if we get a win,” quarterback Desmond Ridder mentioned. “These are stadiums and atmospheres some of these guys only get to play in once in their lifetime or maybe a couple of times.”

The schedule appears to be completely manage for the Bearcats — throughout the event that they beat the Fighting Irish.

They’ll host Temple and UCF earlier than heading to Tulane and Tulsa. Cincinnati wraps up the season by internet web internet hosting Tulsa, visiting South Florida, welcoming SMU to the Queen City and visiting East Carolina earlier than the AAC title sport.

Win all of them and the Big 12-bound Bearcats merely is vulnerable to be in place to make their next giant leap — into the playoffs and in turning into vogue. Cincinnati opened summer season season camp in West Harrison, Indiana, merely west of the Ohio state line, and already has one win contained in the Hoosier State. If it could get one completely different in two weeks, the Bearcats may need to be taken significantly by the CFP various committee.

Especially in a season when among the many many common superpowers at faculty soccer have appeared lower than giant.

If the Bearcats wish to dream actually big, the nationwide title sport is in Indianapolis in January.

“This season is really big for putting Cincinnati on the map,” linebacker Darrian Beavers mentioned after forcing a fumble, recovering it and posting a key sack to assist defend Saturday’s victory. “We’re going into the Big 12 in a couple years, but this can solidify us as a top-10 program.”