Indiana football will travel to Cincinnati Saturday to take on a familiar nonconference opponent in the University of Cincinnati in search of revenge.
Since the last time these two teams met, they’ve undergone opposite trajectories. The Bearcats went undefeated during the 2021 football regular season, earning them a spot in the college football playoff making them the first non-Power Five conference team to make it in the playoffs.
As for Indiana, it finished 1-8 after its loss to Cincinnati at home and ended the season 2-10 overall without a single Big Ten Conference win.
Prior to Indiana’s Chad Wilt being named defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Indiana in January 2022, he served as Cincinnati’s defensive line coach in 2019.
During his time in Cincinnati, the Bearcats totaled 31 sacks and 96 tackles for loss and ranked first in total defense in the American Athletic Conference. The team finished the year at No. 21 in the Associated Press ranking and ended the year with a bowl win in the Birmingham Bowl victory.
“(Cincinnati head) coach (Luke) Fickell is a phenomenal coach,” Wilt said. “They've had the success they’ve had for a reason.”
Wilt said he’s aware there's still familiar faces on the defensive side of the ball from his time with the Bearcats — players that have been in the same system for years.
Despite losing many key pieces from last year’s accomplished Cincinnati team, Wilt said he understands this team is still talented and has many players continuing to develop and get better.
Wilt praises the Bearcats on their ability to finish games so far this season. He acknowledges it is a trait both teams possess, as the Hoosiers’ ability to finish late in the game has propelled them to win in their three games this season.
Now, in Wilt’s first season at Indiana, his defense ranks No. 13 out of 14 Big Ten teams in most yards given up per game. Additionally, Indiana’s offense has the lowest average time of possession per game in the Big Ten which means its defense is on the field the most compared to rest of the conference.
“They’ve got good players and a good culture,” Wilt said. “It's going to be a great challenge for us to go down there and get in that fight with them.”
Wilt and the Hoosiers will play the Bearcats at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.