The Cincinnati Bearcats are considered a long shot in the new-look Big 12

The Cincinnati bearcat mascot performs during an NCAA college football game against East Carolina, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

The Cincinnati Bearcats have enjoyed a series of triumphs in recent years, yet the upcoming 2023 season will present an unparalleled challenge to their program.

Head coach Luke Fickell’s departure to Wisconsin follows his successful leadership of the Bearcats over the past five years, securing a minimum of nine wins annually, which included three seasons with double-digit victories. In his place, Scott Satterfield assumes command, armed with a notable 72-40 overall record cultivated across nine years at Appalachian State and Louisville.

However, the most significant trial for the Bearcats lies in their maiden year within the Big 12 conference, marking a transition from their participation in the American Athletic Conference since 2013. The Big 12 encompasses 14 teams with Texas and Oklahoma still remaining in the league for another year, any of which possess the potential to triumph over one another on any given week.

Cincinnati is one of four fresh entrants into the Big 12, alongside BYU, Houston and UCF. Odds from betting markets favor the latter to be in the most advantageous position for success, while the remaining three newcomers are predicted to encounter difficulties.

The Bearcats’ odds to win the Big 12 stand at 95/1 at FanDuel Sportsbook, equivalent to Iowa State’s odds and superior to BYU (100/1) and Houston (120/1). This assigns Cincinnati a 1.04% implied likelihood of clinching the championship, whereas Texas is established as the clear favorite with +100 odds to secure the top position in the Big 12.

FanDuel introduces a conference exacta market for those seeking greater payouts. The most favored bet is Texas triumphing over Oklahoma at +750, followed by a 14/1 rate for OU’s victory over UT in the Big 12 title game.

Interestingly, the odds for the Longhorns to conquer the Bearcats in the championship game are set at +5500. All other exactas involving Cincinnati hold odds exceeding 100/1.

Cincinnati supporters looking to make wagers might find more promise in the win total market, as FanDuel sets the team’s over/under at 5.5 wins. The over holds odds of +138, while the under is listed at -170. In essence, the market projects a 62.96% probability of Cincinnati concluding the 2023 season with five or fewer wins.

This is of significance due to the fact that Cincinnati needs six victories to secure a spot in a bowl game. The Bearcats have maintained bowl eligibility for five consecutive seasons, which included a College Football Playoff appearance in 2020. Their last three postseason encounters have ended in defeat, including a loss in the Fenway Bowl that concluded a 9-4 campaign in 2022.

Regarding the other newcomers in the Big 12, UCF has a higher win total with an over/under of 6.5. BYU and Houston both face win totals of 4.5 in their inaugural season within the league, implying an anticipated period of adjustment for all four programs. Fortunately, the Bearcats are scheduled to face all three new Big 12 teams in the upcoming season.

Cincinnati will begin the 2023 campaign with a home matchup against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 2.


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