Inclement weather in Birmingham impacted the pregame festivities and caused a delay of approximately 90 minutes in the middle of the first quarter, but Cincinnati had no interest in calling off a game that sealed just the program's fourth 11-plus win season in program history. After a four quarters and a shortened halftime, Luke Fickell and the Bearcats celebrated a 38-6 Birmingham Bowl win against Boston College.
The weather issues were all too familiar to Boston College one year after its First Responder Bowl against Boise State was canceled because of similar delays. But this Eagles team was only a shell of that group, lacking now-fired coach Steve Addazio and star running back A.J. Dillon, who decided to sit out the game in preparation for the 2020 NFL Draft. Boston College struggled mightily to get anything going on offense, picking up its only score on a blocked field goal returned 67 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Cincinnati was happy to finish the season not only with a win to notch back-to-back 11-win seasons, but to erase the frustrations of losing to Memphis twice in two weeks. The Bearcats were methodical and efficient, outgaining the Eagles 459-164 and relying on an effective rushing attack to power the offense in the inclement conditions.
Cincinnati rolled up 343 rushing yards at 5.7 yards per attempt as a team, led by the two-headed monster of quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Michael Warren II. Ridder, who missed the first loss against Memphis with an injury and was unable to find the same kind of success in the AAC championship game, had 105 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to go with his one passing touchdown in the game's best offensive performance. Warren added 105 yards of tough running to provide some balance in that offensive backfield, which is expected to remain intact with both players back in 2020.
Fickell earned AAC Coach of the Year honors last season for the turnaround from four wins to 11, but matching that 11-win total again in 2019 might have been just impressive as the seven-win improvement. There are some key pieces on the defensive side of the ball to replace, but as it stands, Fickell has the Bearcats tracking towards the highest recruiting ranking among Group of Five schools and there will be buzz going into 2020 that this is the team to beat in the AAC.