Cincinnati Football: Takeaways from disappointing second half against SMU

Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Rashee Rice is tackled by Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Arquon Bush. USA Today.
Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Rashee Rice is tackled by Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Arquon Bush. USA Today. /
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Even though Cincinnati escaped with a 29-27 win at SMU last week, there are plenty of areas to improve moving forward including committing way too many penalties and moving the ball with more consistency. Check out a few takeaways from the recent win!

After jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, the Bearcats had to hold off a late comeback from SMU to stay unbeaten in conference play. SMU outscored Cincinnati 13-0 in the fourth quarter and had a shot to tie the game with less than two minutes left.

There are several reasons the Mustangs were able to mount a comeback but Cincinnati made it easier with a season-high 14 penalties for 127 total yards. The Bearcats have struggled to limit penalties all season so far and it could catch up with them this week.

In order to get past UCF and eventually secure a third consecutive conference championship, the Bearcats must avoid penalties. It’s understandable to have a few per game but Cincinnati is tied for third most in the country with 67 penalties in only seven games.

Cincinnati Football: Takeaways from disappointing second half against SMU

Despite a sloppy second half, there were a handful of positive takeaways from the narrow win including an impressive showing from the defensive backfield, a record-setting day from the special teams unit and another solid game from the running back room.

Arquon Bush, Ja’Quan Sheppard and Bryon Threats played well in coverage and helped contain a skilled group of receivers to put the Bearcats in position to win. Ryan Coe also stepped up with a school-record five field goals including a season-long 52-yarder.

Cincinnati found a way to slip past SMU and keep the 19-game win streak alive but I don’t think that type of performance will be enough to get it done at UCF this weekend. Wilson Huber discussed the win over SMU in a  press conference via Cincinnati Athletics.

"“Early in the game, we were dominating but they were making a push in the fourth quarter. Ultimately we just need to do what we can to win and we did that today. It wasn’t pretty or perfect but it was good enough to get the job done. Going into the season, the defensive backs were the question that everyone wanted to ask. We graduated some incredible players so everyone wanted to know what that room would look like. I think Arquon and Ja’Quan have done a great job stepping up and filling in those shoes the way they need to. They just have to be themselves. That’s good enough. They executed at a really high level today.”"

Next. Cincinnati Football: Bearcats fight off fourth quarter comeback against SMU. dark