4-7 overall, 2-5 conference, 7th Big East
Against the spread
4-6 (1-3 home, 3-3 away, 2-3 grass)
5-5 (1-3 home, 4-2 away, 4-1 grass)
-.64 per game
2005 Season Summary
After a 2003 season in which they went 5-7 straight up and 4-7 against the spread the Cincinnati Bearcats fired ten-year head coach Rick Minter, despite the fact that he had led Cincinnati to bowl games in three of the previous four seasons and had brought the Bearcats up to a level of respectability that, before his arrival, seemed unattainable.
Dantonio hired for a new era
Mark Dantonio, who was Ohio State ‘s highly respected defensive coordinator during their 2002 national championship season, was hired to replace Minter as Cincinnati would enter a new era after 2004 by departing Conference USA for the Big East, which has an automatic berth into the BCS bowl system. It was reasoned that Dantonio would know how to recruit the state of Ohio and have an eye for big time talent due to his service at OSU.
The Bearcats would enter the Big East on a high
Dantonio would lead the Bearcats for a final season in Conference USA before the jump to the Big East, which gave him an excellent opportunity to start off his tenure on the right foot. After starting off 2-4 straight up and an even worse 1-5 against the spread, Cincinnati would rally under Dantonio with five wins and covers in their final six games, climaxing with a 32-14 Fort Worth Bowl win over Marshall as 1.5-point chalks as the Bearcats would enter the Big East on a high.
Down a noticeable notch
The strong close to the 2004 season may have served as a mixed blessing for both Dantonio and gamblers, as expectations were raised as the Bearcats’ betting value decreased.
Cincinnati began play in 2005 with a weak 28-26 win over lightly regarded Eastern Michigan as 9-point home chalks. This was followed by a 24-42 loss/cover as 20.5-point dogs at Penn State .
Many fans and gamblers were shocked by Cincinnati ‘s next game, however, which wasn’t even on the board. The Bearcats barely escaped 1-AA West Carolina in a 7-3 win that demonstrated they were down a noticeable notch from the previous year.
Things were to get worse for the Bearcats as they traveled to Oxford for a midweek nationally televised game against Miami of Ohio, where they were installed as 10-point dogs in a 16-44 embarrassment.
This was followed by a conference showdown at Pittsburgh against the struggling Panthers. The 15-points proved to be a trap, rather than a bargain as Cincinnati lost 20-38 to hit rock bottom at 2-3 straight up and 1-3 against the spread.
Up and down and tough to read
Cincinnati returned home for a Big East matchup against rebuilding Connecticut . The Bearcats were a solid value as 7-point dogs and pulled off a 28-17 upset win. The oddsmakers obviously posted a line based on UConn’s past success and Cincy’s current struggles.
Conference chalk Louisville came calling next, and Cincinnati was a whopping 21-point home dog, losing 22-46 in a forfeiture of all the good will gained in the previous week. Cincinnati was a 5.5-point dog at struggling Syracuse and proved to be a good value in a 22-16 win that many gamblers avoided like the plague. The Bearcats were once again embarrassed at home on Senior Day in a 0-38 disgrace against West Virginia who was a 14-ppoint chalk and eventual league champ. Cincinnati was up and down and hard to read as they entered the final two games of 2005.
A hapless end
The Bearcats traveled to South Florida to meet the upstart Bulls, who were clearly overvalued as 22-point chalks. Cincy got the cash in a 16-31 loss as an unwanted dog. They closed with a 9-44 loss at Rutgers as 13.5-point dogs for a hapless end to their first season in the Big East, and with a lot of doubters as they headed into the off-season.