The season is officially on the brink for Cincinnati football, as the Bearcats fell to 4-6, one loss away from elimination for bowl consideration.
The Cincinnati offense continued to struggle mightily against a UCF team that was 0-12 last year, failing to score a touchdown for the second straight game. The Bearcats have now been held touchdown-less in their last 158:21 of play, dating back to the second quarter of a loss to Temple on October 29.
Sophomore Hayden Moore moved back into the starting lineup for UC, going 13-for-25 for 129 yards, a lost fumble, an interception (which was basically another lost fumble that didn;t hit the ground), and (obviously) no touchdowns. Quarterback play has been an issue this year for the Bearcats, but for what it’s worth, I think it was the right decision to play the underclassman Moore over the senior Gunner Kiel. With this season already an unmitigated disaster, it makes sense to get experience and game reps for someone who’s going to play next season. Gunner Kiel came in late in relief and went a dreadful 6-of-17 with an interception of his own.
The offensive issues have run far deeper than just quarterback play to a systemic failure of the offensive system. UC’s offense produced another seven three-and-outs on Saturday, and both of Hayden Moore’s turnovers fall somewhat upon the offensive line (Moore still needs to hold onto the ball), as they were both in essence sack-fumbles.
At least Tommy Tubervile didn’t wave the white flag and hand off to Chad Banschback and run the clock out late in the fourth quarter. But still, with UCF in the prevent defense, the Bearcats had two chances to score a touchdown late, but failed. Under Tuberville’s leadership, the team has looked like a ship off to a promising start that got lost in the Bermuda Triangle sometime around the middle of the season.
With two games remaining, UC will have to beat a 6-3 Memphis team and a 7-3 Tulsa team in back-to-back games to reach a bowl. All you need to know is that a program that went 0-12 last year just embarrassed UC to get it’s sixth win and reach bowl eligibility, while a Bearcats team that was one of the five winningest programs in the nation between 2008 and 2014, had it’s fate all but sealed to be home for the holidays this year.
The doomsday clock continues to count down toward December 7, when Tommy Tuberville’s buyout drops by a million bucks and someone else can begin to this program can begin to rebuild this program. I’m sure Tuberville will (again) say that nobody feels worse than him about the loss and that UCF is a tough team. That has become a running joke at this point. Next Friday night is Senior Night, and Bearcats fans owe it to the kids to show up. I have a feeling that might not happen (which is a shame), but I hope the players know that there are some of us who appreciate their efforts. The guy on the back of a tandem bike can pedal as hard as he can, but won’t accomplish anything meaningful as long as the driver is incompetent.