Jul 12, 2011

Are you ready for some (Bearcats) football?

Since most of the country is sweltering in the mid-summer heat, it’s a great time to look ahead to the cooler days of fall – and the return of football this September. In fact, single game tickets are now on sale to UCATS members, and will be available to the general public starting Monday, July 18. So to help you get through the dog days, here are five reasons to look forward to the upcoming season:

1.  18 starters returning to the team: Highlighted by unanimous First Team All-Big East senior quarterback Zach Collaros, senior running back Isaiah Pead and senior receiver D.J. Woods, as well as senior linebacker J.K. Schaffer and senior defensive tackle Derek Wolfe, the Bearcats are retaining a number of stars on both sides of the ball.

In fact, each player listed above has been named to a watch list for a variety of national awards: Pead and Collaros are on the watch list for the Maxwell Award (given to an outstanding offensive player); Woods is on the watch list for the  Biletnikoff Award (given annually to the nation's most outstanding wide receiver); and Schaffer and Wolfe are on the watch list for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy (awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player). With no clear preseason frontrunner in the Big East, the Bearcats have a solid chance to utilize this talent and depth to make a run at a BCS bowl for the third time in four years.

2.  Tailgating and pre-game traditions old and new: Make sure to stop by the Bearcat Blitz in and around the Myers Alumni Center, beginning four hours before Nippert Stadium home games against Austin Peay St. (September 3, 7:00 pm), Akron (September 17, TBD), North Carolina St. (September 22, 8:00 pm) and Big East rival Connecticut (December 3, TBD). You’ll be right in the middle of the action and have a front row seat for the team’s Cat Walk path to the stadium. A variety of exciting changes and additions to the game-day experience are also in the works, and the two games taking place at Paul Brown Stadium will give fans a chance to develop new tailgating or pre-game traditions.

3.  A nationally-ranked recruiting class: Butch Jones and his assistant coaches wasted no time pounding the pavement and shoring up needs on both sides of the ball; leveraging the many positives of playing at the University of Cincinnati (including the new Sheakley Athletics Complex) to land one of the most anticipated classes of recruits in UC football history. The incoming class was ranked #41 according to Scout.com and placed #45 on Rivals.com. Some additional food for thought: the #41 ranking on Scout.com marks the first time the Bearcats have ever cracked the top 50 list, and they also came in third among Big East teams.

4.  Sweet road trips: The Bearcats away game schedule is highlighted by a trip to Knoxville to play the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, September 10 at 3:30 pm. The later kickoff time makes this a perfect opportunity to make the drive Friday night or early Saturday morning and take in the atmosphere at an iconic college stadium. The Bearcats also travel to Pittsburgh (November 5) for the first time since the historic 45-44 thriller that propelled the ‘Cats to the Sugar Bowl in 2009, and take slightly longer trips to play South Florida (October 22), Rutgers (November 19) and Syracuse (November 26). Of course, if these are a bit too far away, there’s always the short trip up to Oxford to watch the Bearcats play Miami for the Victory Bell on Saturday, October 1 at 1 pm.

5.  Two games at Paul Brown Stadium: The Bearcats played perhaps their most exciting home game of the season last year under the lights downtown, coming up just a bit short against a powerful Oklahoma team, 31-29. The larger capacity and improved access to amenities make the game-day experience more exciting than ever at PBS – and gives Bearcats fans a chance to be even louder and more supportive of their team. On the flip side, both Louisville and West Virginia’s fan bases travel extremely well, so get your tickets now and make sure the stadium is rocking on October 15 and November 12.

Try to stay cool during these hot summer days – and remember – football season is right around the corner!

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