The Cincinnati Bearcats
The battle of the Victory Bell commences today. The Bearcats have won the past 11 matchups in the rivalry that dates back to the 1800s. With UC being the underdog, according the Vegas, this year might be different. The Bearcats are coming off a tough loss to Michigan, so they should be ready to take on the Redhawks today in Oxford. Despite the score, Cincinnati hung with the much larger school until deep into the 3rd quarter.
The defense, which was solid against Michigan only gave up 20 points in the 14-36 loss. A thing to watch for in today’s game is who is under center for UC. Quarterback Hayden Moore, despite poor performances in the past 2 games, has the start for the Bearcats. Although Moore has the start, sophomore Ross Trail will be standing by ready to enter the game at any time. Having been out with a minor injury early in the season, Trail is back in fighting shape and ready to take the field.
One detriment to the Bearcats is the absence of running back Mike Boone. Boone twisted his ankle on the final play of the Michigan game and has not been practicing this past week. Boone was a staple of the Bearcat offense in the first two games, and his presence will certainly be missed. In the case of Boone not seeing the field, the brunt of rushing duties will most likely fall on redshirt freshman Gerrid Doakes. Doakes had a solid appearance with few carries last week and a 25 yard reception. It will be exciting watching him take command. True freshman running back Michael Warren is also expected to get some play time against Miami today which would be his college debut. Warren said one of the reasons he chose UC was so he could get on the field right away, there is a strong possibility of that coming true today.
To add to all the uncertainties, kicker Andrew Gantz, having missed last week, will have to compete with Josh Pasley for his job. Gantz missed a PAT and a short field goal against Austin Peay in the season opener and strained his groin. This caused Pasley to take over in practice the next week and serve as kicker against Michigan. We might be seeing the kicking duties be shared by the two. Luke Fickell, having spent almost the entirety of his career as a player or coach at Ohio State, is learning about the significance of the UC-Miami rivalry for the first time. Being familiar with long standing and tough rivalries himself, he comments, “One of the oldest, longest-running rivalries and it’s an exciting time, and for me, my first. I can tell you this. It’s not about who is the most talented. It’s not about who can scheme up who more. It’s about preparation, it’s about practice. Both teams will be fired up, but it’s really about preparation.”
The Miami Redhawks
Miami Redhawks coming off a big win against Austin Peay are going to be fired up for their game against UC today. With quarterback Gus Ragland leading them to victory with 3 touchdown passes. Miami actually beat Austin Peay by a larger margin than UC did in their season opener. Miami also performed much better statistically, and beat UC in almost every stat. Miami drove for 295 yards against Austin Peay, UC only drove for 248 yards. Miami held Austin Peay to 270 yards, UC allowed 313. Miami even had more first downs and possession time against Austin Peay than UC did.
It was the possession time that became significant for Miami late in the game. In the 4th quarter, Miami had possession of the ball for over 12 minutes. This ability to burn down the clock can be deadly when used correctly. They accomplish this in various way, one is their very aggressive approach to 4th downs. They went for it on 4 separate occasions against Austin Peay. These were not typical times to go for it on a 4th down either. One of their attempts was with 7 yards to go in the 1st quarter with no score.
Despite the solid numbers from Ragland, Miami still runs the ball more with running back Alonzo Smith having 144 yards in 35 carries. The Miami offense has many weapons and the versatility could be a threat if our defense does not prepare properly. They have a plethora of receivers and tight ends for Ragland to throw too, and a handful of solid players in the backfield to carry the ball, including Ragland. He has not shown it yet, but when scrambling, he is dangerous. Having an illustrious career as quarterback for Moeller, many in Cincinnati remember the threat he poses.
Who Wins This Year?
The Bearcats offense will have to step it up as I always say, but even more so with Mike Boone not being 100%. Missing their main producer in the backfield could be devastating to an already struggling offense. Miami has upgraded their formerly atrocious run game, and it is something we will have to be prepared for. Our run defense has been mediocre and if we get lazy, we can start giving up big plays. With all of this going on the main threat on Miami’s offense still is their standout quarterback, Gus Ragland. He is the one who lead Miami from a 0-6 start to a 6-6 finish last year. With a TD-interception ratio of 5-1 this season he is looking impressive, despite only completing about half of his passes.
Our secondary did not look very good against Michigan, giving up a couple of long balls. This is not good for us, especially since Miami has a few big players that Ragland can throw to down field including 6’4 receiver James Gardner. Gardner so far this season is entering the game with 13 catches averaging at 17.5 yards. Another threat is 6’4 tight end Ryan Smith. Smith is coming into the game with 7 catches averaging at 14 yards. These are both players our secondary will have to keep a close eye on if we want any chance of shutting them down.
It will be a tough one, but I am predicting a UC victory.
Charles’ Prediction: Bearcats 30 – Redhawks 21