Nov 16, 2013; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Anthony Cioffi (31) breaks up touchdown pass intended for Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Chris Moore (15) during the first quarter at High Points Solutions Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

I'll Take It! UC vs. Rutgers Halftime Report

Wow. Just wow.

I had no idea when I called dibs on the halftime report for this game that I would have such an easy job.  My official recommendation is: stay the course.  The petty fan part of me wants to keep pouring it on but I think there are a number of acceptable ways to handle the second half and I won’t complain either way.

Here’s the breakdown, if you watched the game and just want my bullet points look at “the short”, if you missed it and want the narrative check out “the long”, if you hate halftime commercials then just read the whole thing.

The Short:

  • The absolute best first quarter of the season.  Great defense, great offense, flawless Brendon Kay.
  • Big interception on Rutgers first offensive play.
  • Big onside kick recovery by Cincinnati.
  • Big fake punt conversion on 4th and 8 for UC at the beginning of the second quarter (debatable whether it was intentional or not).
  • Cincinnati took at 31-7 lead with 10:36 left in the 2nd quarter, suffice it to say best first half since Brian Kelly.
  • Totally dominant performance on both sides of the ball.
  • The only error was a fumble but even that was on a big play for positive yards.

The Long:

The game opened with an impressive Cincinnati drive that fell short and ended with a field goal.  It was disappointing to see the momentum trail off like that but for anyone who has been watching this season’s games it was a breath of fresh air to actually move around the field in the first quarter.  Rutgers defense lived up to it’s reputation once we got into the red zone.

The first defensive drive was even better with a pick on the first play of the game.  Perhaps the only thing sweeter than that was the next play which was an immediate touchdown pass to grab a 10-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the first quarter.  Perhaps Tuberville read my post about our bad 1st quarters at noon this season and is trying to stick it to me.  If that were true it would be the sweetest spite has ever tasted.

Exactly half way through the first quarter Rutgers stalled at midfield and punted into the endzone and Cincinnati took over once again on offense.  After a 30 yard gain in two plays Cincinnati fumbled the ball at the 50 and Rutgers jumped on the opportunity and marched down the field and scored a touchdown.  1st quarter and we’re 10-7 Cincinnati, I don’t think anyone was expecting anything close to a shootout but it started looking like it could go that direction.  Cincinnati built a case for a shootout with a 66 yard touchdown pass on the next drive making it 17-7 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

Cincinnati followed up that score with an onside kick that resulted in a fast drive.  After an amazing catch from Shaq Washington Cincinnati took the lead to the tune of 24-7 with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.  It is an understatement to say this is the best 1st quarter we’ve seen all season.  I can’t help but think if we had this first quarter dropped into each game this season we would be undefeated, looking at a BCS bowl and likely a top 10 national ranking.  Yeah, it was that good of a first quarter.

The second quarter began with a 3 and out from Rutgers courtesy of a fired up UC defense.  UC seemed to switch it’s game plan at the beginning of the second quarter to a run-based system.  As is the fate of our run offense and any run offense going  against Rutgers it failed.  Cincinnati lined up on 4th and 8 for the punt when they shocked all viewers with a fake punt that worked beautifully.  They finished that drive with a Brendon Kay run and took at 31-7 lead with 10:36 in the 2nd quarter.

At the 7 minute mark Rutgers reminded Cincinnati (and all of us) that they are not inept, they are a talented bunch having a good season.  They drove from inside their own 5 and gave us a scare before getting shutdown at midfield by the UC defense.  Cincinnati took control with 4:54 remaining in the first half.  That led to yet another amazing Brendon Kay touchdown pass (41 yards) and gave Cincinnati a dominating 38-7 lead.

It looked like both teams were content to take it easy until halftime until Cincinnati picked off Nova again at the 50 yard line with a little over 2 minutes to go.  That drive ended in disappointment with a failed 51 yard field goal attempt.  Rutgers took control at mid-field with just under 2 minutes remaining.  They showed a spark of life before getting shut down again on 3rd down and forced into a 4th and 16 situation for the second time today.  With 1:04 Rutgers punted to the UC 11 yard line.  Cincinnati decided to take a knee and run out the clock on the first half.

Well done Bearcats, well done.

Bottom Line:

Totally dominating performance.  Amazing effort, great gameplan.  I’d expect to see some more running in the second half not just to bleed out the clock but also to get a good workout for RB platoon.

It should be safe to tune into the basketball game although this game is hard to stop watching.  Anything can happen in the 2nd half but it looks like we’re ready to play today and I don’t see that going away.

The basketball team plays Appalachian State at 2, let’s not give Columbus another reason to love that school! Go Bearcats!!

As a side note I thought we had won hands down for the ugliest jersey combination today until I got a close up of those Rutgers helmets.  Ouch.  I would say that hurts more than the scoreboard but the good folks in Piscataway may disagree.

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