“I think the greatest lesson we learned throughout the stretch of, probably, the second two-thirds of our season is that we had to stop trying to prove people or live up to an expectation of what they wanted us to be,” Fickell said Sunday. “They wanted us to win this way — and you’re favored by this, so you got to do this. I think it took a toll on us.” said Luke Fickell.
On October 23 Cincinnati held off Navy in a 7-point win. Two weeks later Tusla was edged out 28-20. It won its final four games as well. Cincinnati recaptured its energy from early in the season to be ranked as number 2 by late October in the Associated Press poll.
Now Cincinnati must beat number one seed Alabama.
“No, I wasn’t aware exactly where those things were,” Fickell said. “When you start to see them pop up at the bottom of the ticker, I turn the channel.
“We know. We have a good idea. If you want to have a shot at the title, you got to beat the champs. This is what we have. We have a shot to beat the champs.”
Fickell said his team got “in a groove” over its final four games and has worried less about proving itself.
“I know that our guys don’t feel like they need to prove anything,” he said. “When the ball goes down, all they care about is competing. And if that means they’re going to try to prove somebody wrong, they’re going to try to prove somebody wrong. But the reality is we just want to prove ourselves right.”