ATHENS — Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has made sure his Cincinnati team knows exactly what it is walking into on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl matchup with Georgia will feature an environment like the Bearcats haven’t experienced this season, and an opponent like they’ve never seen before.
“When the emotions start to roll, a lot of things happen,” said Fickell, who has led the Bearcats to a 9-0 season and No. 8 rank.
“We’re excited to have 18,000 or 17000 fans will be in there, 25 percent (capacity). The emotions are going to roll, there’s no way we can simulate that.”
And, the Cincinnati coach said, there’s been no way to simulate the No. 9-ranked Bulldogs (7-2) that will be on the other side of the football.
“We believe this is the best team that we have faced and played since I’ve been here at the University of Cincinnati,” said Fickell, who just completed his fourth season leading the Bearcats.
Fickell said that’s “no disrespect” to then-No. 2-ranked Ohio State, which beat Cincinnati 42-0 last season.
“From what I’ve watched and what I’ve seen, this is a really, really good football team,” Fickell said. “I know we’ve got to be at our best and play at our best.”
The former defensive coordinator in Fickell zeroed in on the different quarterback JT Daniels has made of the Bulldogs beyond the stat sheet, which reflect UGA averaging more than 40 points and nearly 500 yards with the USC transfer under center.
“Offensively they have settled in with the quarterback,” Fickell said, noting that UGA has found more rhythm and more of an identity than before. “I know he can make every throw, I know he can spin it, he’s got some great weapons.
“I still don’t think he’s unleashed all he can do.”
Fickell said because of the Bulldogs’ ability to run the ball behind a strong offense line, UGA doesn’t have to ask as much of Daniels.
Still, Fickell knows offensive coordinator Todd Monken will be scheming for the Bearcats’ No. 2 pass efficiency defense.
“You’re curious to see with 12 days (of bowl prep) that next step of what will they give him to do to make that offense more dynamic,” he said. “But you can tell he’s the future to what they are doing.”
While Daniels might be the best quarterback the Bearcats have played, nose tackle Jordan Davis certainly ranks among the biggest.
“99 (Davis) obviously is a big deal,” Fickel said. “That’s probably the one thing in our league this year, that we probably haven’t faced.
“We’ve faced really good football teams, good speed and talent, but sometimes you don’t see those guys up front that are that big of difference makers.”