Nervous is an understatement. There is TONS on the line here. The traveling trophy would be nice to get back especially since we won’t be playing them again next year. But think back to last year’s game with cold and rainy weather in Louisville, losing in overtime as Butch tried to ice a missed kick and give them another chance to win.
This year I truly believe that they are the better team in terms of talent but we are the better program. We’re growing by leaps and bounds and keep getting better and better. Even with that loss last year we shared the title with them which makes it 4 out of the last 5 seasons for conference title and 5 of the last 6 with 10 win seasons. Please don’t read any disrespect here, Louisville is one of the hottest athletic departments in the country and quite frankly under-hyped. They’re the reigning basketball champ and have a great football team and coach. But Cincinnati really has something going right now, it’s bigger than the team or the coach.
This Thursday is a chance to prove that to the nation.
Here are the previews from some a few of our contributors, see if you agree with our collected wisdom.
*It should be noted that I told them they had to pick UC but were free to choose the manner in which we would win.
The one and only,
No question this is Cincinnati’s toughest game to date. The numbers certain players have put up and the Cardinals as a whole pretty much proves that out. But you know what? Louisville doesn’t scare me. The Bearcats have played like the best team in the AAC over the last several weeks whereas the Cardinals have struggled to an extent against their most recent opponents Houston and Memphis. These are two very, very similar teams with great players all over the field. But with the way Cincinnati played in the month of October and with the kind of momentum they are carrying with them on this six game winning streak, I just can’t see the Bearcats losing on Thursday night. Not during a blackout, not during a night game in front of a frenzied crowd, and especially not during the last night game at Nippert Stadium for the next year and a half. Cincinnati 31, Louisville 28.
I’ll be the first to say I’m a bit nervous about this game. However, I’ll also be the first to say that I think Louisville is a bit overrated. Teddy Bridgewater is a very capable and smart quarterback who is very deserving of much of the hype surrounding him. He’s only thrown 3 INTs this season. That’s impressive. However the Cards are coming off two close games in which they staggered to the finish line. The key to winning this game is going to be the Cincinnati defense and probably even more importantly the pass rush. Keeping enough pressure on Teddy will hopefully keep him and the Cardinal receivers from clicking because God knows our secondary won’t. Either way it’ll be a great battle between two extremely talented defenses as well as two impressive offenses. As nervous as I am about it, the Keg of Nails is staying in Cincinnati. 28-24 Bearcats.
For this Bearcats team, there is no place like home. They haven’t really played bad at home all year, and I expect this trend to continue as they fight the Cardinals for the Keg of Nails. Playing well early will be the key-Louisville has out scored its opponents an astounding 89-6 in the first quarter this year. The Cards have 3 guys averaging over 4.5 yards a carry in the run game. Teddy Bridgewater has a completion percentage of 71% to go along with his 25 touchdowns this year. He has a few wide receivers that he likes to throw to and he does a nice job spreading the wealth, as U of L has 6 receivers who have 20 catches or more. Look for the Bearcats to play aggressive defensively and try to cause confusion. The Cardinals have been penalized heavily (63 yards a game, compared to 32 yards for opponents) this year, and with the ‘Cats stout defense and a big, loud crowd at Nippert, look for this to continue.
Usually, this is a game I might pick us to lose or have it be very close in my prediction. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict a 35-18 UC win. I expect Tommy T to pull out all the stops and I think that the atmosphere at Nippert will give us a huge advantage if we score early. Louisville is a very good team, but I just think that this will be similar to the Rutgers game where everything will go right for the ‘Cats. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a quick strike early in the game from Brendon Kay to Mekale McKay. It will depend on which UC team shows up, but I expect our best effort in this incredibly important game.
The atmosphere on campus is crazy. This is probably the biggest game at Nippert since 2009, and you can feel it. Professors and students are hyping this game like the Crosstown Shootout. Nippert Stadium is going to be raucous, and that’s gonna make a difference in this game.
Teddy Bridgewater started the season with Heisman hopes, and deservedly so. Although Louisville’s season didn’t pan out as expected, this team still has lethal potential. However, Cincinnati has more on the line, and more to prove. I think it goes without saying, but the biggest x-factor in this game are the QB’s. Bridgewater and Brendon Kay have both been ripping through a weak AAC schedule with remarkable efficiency. We’re going to see great games from both signal callers. Both teams have wideouts with home run potential. Both teams have defenses that have been giving opponents nightmares all season. On paper, this game is pretty much dead even, in my opinion.
Brendon Kay has been in Clifton for what feels like a decade. He has the brains, heart, and composure of a veteran. In his final hoorah at Nippert Stadium, he’s going to be ready.
Tommy Tuberville is a big game coach. He knows how important this is to the players, the students, the fans, and the city. He’s had more than a week to formulate a game plan to stymie the Cardinals. I’m willing to bet he has a special portion of the playbook that he’s been hiding all season. Charlie Strong and the Cardinals can’t prepare for plays that opponents haven’t seen this year. Remember the circus plays that scorched Rutgers a few weeks ago? Look for some similar unexpected play calls.
With a bowl game atmosphere at Nippert, a lock-down defense, an efficient veteran QB, and a head coach that knows how to win big games, the Bearcats will surprise everyone outside of Clifton, and emerge victorious. Bearcats win it, 28-24.
Last and maybe least, yours truly:
I think we’ll know after the first quarter how this game will go. Either the UC offense will come out and click like it has the last few games and we’ll be fine. Or they’ll come out and stumble like they did the first half of the season and the game will be over. Louisville will score points, I don’t see any way we keep them out of the endzone so we have to score. Ball control would be nice and we’ve done that well lately. Running will be great especially given the weather conditions that we’ll be facing. I’m torn between a nail-biter or a blowout. That may seem weird but I could see Cincinnati getting fired up and steamrolling a superior opponent like we did to top 10 Rutgers in 2006. On the other hand, I could see this coming down to a field goal which gives me panic attacks given our performance on special teams this year. When it’s all said and done I call it for UC to the tune of 24-17.
There you have it! It’s going to be a heck of a fight all of us picked the game within one score and I believe the official spread is 3 in favor of Louisville. All signs point to epic showdown.
As a final note, I started a new twitter just for my bearcats stuff so feel free to follow as I’ll try to tweet live during most games! @bearnati