Cincinnati 52, Miami (OH) 14: Bearcats Continue Dominance of Redhawks in Victory Bell Romp

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The first half was a tale of two teams. Despite letting the Redhawks score on their opening series, the Bearcats made their presence felt to their in-state rivals by punishing the Miami offense early. On the three subsequent drives Cincinnati picked off Zac Dysert twice, once returning it for a touchdown, and forcing a fumble from runningback Jamire Westbrook. That defensive supremacy propelled Cincinnati to a 14 – 6 lead.

But all of a sudden the teams flipped sides and the Bearcats lost all semblance of rhythm. The momentum firmly shifted to the hands of the Redhawks who stymied a much more talented UC team. The low point was Miami’s final drive that led to their second touchdown of the evening. The Redhawks took advantage of a phantom unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Arryn Chenault and a roughing the passer penalty on Greg Blair to score a late touchdown on Cincinnati, who opted to stop blitzing and play shell defense. Well, as we witnessed against Tennessee and South Florida last season, that doesn’t always (i.e. never) work.

Essentially the Bearcats dragged their feet into halftime with a 24 – 14 lead.

Thank goodness football is played with two halves because Cincinnati was absolutely dominant in the final 30 minutes of play. After missing two easy touchdown passes in the disastrous second quarter, Munchie Legaux hit Travis Kelce on a perfect strike to cap UC’s most complete drive of the game and extend the Bearcats lead to 17. #4 definitely settled down and started completing the easy passes. Cincinnati also got better production on the ground against a defense that gives up around 250 yards per game. And it’s no surprise that the Bearcats ripped Miami for exactly 250 rushing yards tonight behind a terrific performance from George Winn, who finished the game with 128 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

The offensive explosion was clearly important in Cincinnati securing a victory. However it was the performance of the defensive line that really propelled the Bearcats. They had been kept in check for a good portion of the game and is what really got Miami back in this game. Jancek surprisingly seemed to rely too much on his front four to generate pressure and the Redhawks’ depleted offensive line was up to the task. But by the second half the strategy appeared to be working as Miami’s offensive line couldn’t sustain their blocks against much more talented pass rushers. Jordan Stepp, Walter Stewart, John Williams made short work of the Redhawks’ blockers and got after Dysert numerous times. By the fourth quarter a stifling UC defense and explosive Bearcat offense ballooned the lead to 45 – 14 and the second stringers were firmly entrenched in the game.

This thing was over.

So Cincinnati moves to 4 – 0 keeping the Victory Bell in Clifton for the seventh straight year. It’s the longest such streak by either team in this series and by the looks of it the Bearcats won’t be surrendering the trophy any time soon. Not once in the last seven years has UC won by less than three touchdowns. This is dominance in it’s purest form.

Going forward the Bearcats face their second FCS opponent of the season next week in the Fordham Rams. If they don’t eclipse the half-century mark next Saturday there should be Hell to pay. Despite some hiccups Cincinnati’s offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders right now. UC should make short work of Fordham. If they can survive the potential trap game at Toledo on the 20th we could be staring down an incredible matchup with the Louisville Cardinals the following weekend in the final rivalry game of the season.

In the immediate future look for this team to show up in the rankings tomorrow. They appeared in the coaches poll last week but came in at #26 in the AP poll. I would bet the contents of my bank account that they are in the Top 25 of both tomorrow afternoon.