It’s finally here! The entire Cincinnati Bearcats community has been looking forward to this day since… well, for a really, really long time. In order to talk about this Saturday, it’s important to look back at last Saturday’s victory over the Miami Redhawks.
What can I say about the Miami game? For starters, Miami hung around for way too long, especially given how good the Bearcats should have played. Even though UC walked out with a win, they did not look good. Gunner Kiel missed more targets than he did against Toledo. He under threw some balls to some downfield targets. The punting game was more than rough. The Bearcats cannot continue to shank punts and cede good field position.
It would be fair to say that Miami also ran the ball all over us. The Bearcats defensive front simply could not make the tackles. But, a win is a win. Now for the explanation (see “apology”)…
I feel like I need to explain why the Bearcats played so poorly. Of course, the “Battle for the Victory Bell” is captioned as a rivalry game. However, the Bearcats have won eight (now, nine) straight “rivalry” games. In other words, the rivalry does not feel much like a rivalry anymore. The talent at both programs does not compare – it is heavily lopsided in favor of the Bearcats. In addition, every player on the Cincinnati sideline knew that they would be traveling to Ohio Stadium to play tOSU this Saturday. For this year, the rivalry game transformed into a trap game. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Were there any takeaways? Sure, I think there is one clear take away. This might sound strange, but I was thrilled that Gunner Kiel didn’t throw 10 touchdowns with no interceptions against Miami. The secondary that he will face this week against Ohio State does not compare to Toledo’s or Miami’s. I think it’s good that he got roughed up a little bit.
In case you missed it, here’s a video recap of the highlights:
Looking ahead, here are some quick thoughts.
1. OSU’s QB and O Line May Have Improved Over Their Bye Week.
According to some, the Bearcats will face a much-improved quarterback for Ohio State. This week, Urban Meyer said that J.T. Barrett improved a great deal last week. That is not great news for a Bearcats secondary that was torched by Toledo’s backup and Miami’s Andrew Hendrix. There also used to be a concern among Buckeye fans that their interior line was going to enter this game banged up. With last week’s bye week, center Jacoby Boren and guard Pat Elflein had time to heal and will compete this weekend.
2. OSU May Not Underestimate UC.
If Ohio State had won the game against Virginia Tech, they may have been caught underestimating the Bearcats. With that reality check at home earlier this season, they appear to be taking UC very seriously. Urban Meyer has remarked that Cincinnati is a Power 5 conference-caliber team (it’s worth noting that he also used to play for Cincinnati, but you already knew that). Meyer is teaching his guys about Gunner Kiel this week, and has been preaching that the Bearcats’ passing attack is something to be reckoned with.
3. How Will the Bearcats’ O Line Perform?
For the Bearcats, the biggest question mark in my mind is how they will handle the defensive line of the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes have so many quick and huge athletes up front that it will be difficult to provide Kiel with sufficient time to go through his progressions. In addition, the Bearcats will have a Herculean task to get Hosey Williams and Tion Green past the D line and into the secondary.
4. Big Players Make Big Plays in Big Games.
You never know how a team will perform on the big stage. So far, UC has played a couple of brownies in front of 30-40,000 fans. On Saturday, there will be over 100,000 screaming Buckeye fans. Who shows up? Which players rise to the occasion? Do the skill position players make great plays? Can our big guys hold their own?
I’m excited. Go Bearcats!