Like I’m sure Tony Pike does about the ’09 Pitt game lets all forget about the first half of Saturday’s game in Greenville. It was ugly, it was terrifying, it caused pacemakers and heads alike to explode.
Let’s not talk about the 12 penalties for 112 yards, the 2 Ridder INTs, or the dismal defense.
Whatever Fickell and Friends said at halftime worked.
The Bearcats (7-1, 4-0) were down 31-21 at halftime to a sub par conference opponent, on the road. With the looming shadow of the SMU/Memphis game being played on prime time the Bearcats were in the dark and on the precipice of a catastrophe.
Here’s what I noticed in the second half.
The offense was not penalized one time. This was huge in the momentum game. The Bearcats cleaned up their efforts and it paid huge dividends. The Bearcats marched down the field on the opening drive of the second half and was right back in the game.
The Bearcats had their way with the Pirates defense when it came to the run game, rushing for 301 yards total. Ridder got it done with his legs rushing for 121 yards on 12 carries. Mike Warren II rushed for 141 on 18 carries and a game high 3 touchdowns. Gerrid Doaks added a rushing touchdown, TE Joshia Deguara added in a receiving touchdown to silent the student section late in the game.
What do you do with all of that? You add Sauce.
Freshmen Ahmad Gardner did it again. Some (me) are saying he’s the reincarnation of James Wiggins.
If this was the first Bearcats game you’ve watched this season and sat there and watched ECU’s QB Holton Ahlers throw for 535 yards, 283 of those to one wideout, CJ Johnson, you would have to wonder how in the world they’ve only lost one game this season.
Couch coaches are screaming for Des Ridder to sit and for Fickell to test the waters with backup QB Ben Bryant. Ridder, the QB that led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including the winning drive in the final 90 seconds.
After being iced twice by ECU’s head coach, the Bearcats’ kicker Sam Crosa stepped up and nailed a 32 yard field goal kick to cap off the Bearcats comeback and win the game 46-43 as time expired.
The UC Bearcats are now ranked #17 in both polls, up one spot from last week in the Coach’s and are now the highest ranked G5 school in either poll.
Big News of the Week
The Bohn Zone era is officially over in Cincinnati. In relatively quiet news Mike Bohn has been hired by USC to take over as their athletic director. Bohn’s accomplishments were plenty while in Clifton. The remodeling of both Nippert and 5/3 Arena, the hiring of Luke Fickell, John Brannen, Scott Googins, and Michelle Clark-Heard will let him leave his mark for years to come. He was a busy man that had a lot of roles to fill.
Online speculation is already out of control with people throwing names around for his replacement. Names like Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. President Pinto has already said he’s spoken to Fickell about the change. The Tressel for AD makes a lot of sense to me. He’s one of Fickell’s biggest mentors and would probably buy us at least some time (maybe a lot of time) with Fickell.
It was a big week for the AAC. Memphis hosted College Game Day and the undefeated SMU Mustangs. In a shootout SMU suffered their first loss of the season. Both teams are now 8-1 and 4-1 in the conference. This leaves the Bearcats as the last team in the American without a conference loss.
This game put a great spotlight on the conference and I don’t think anyone was disappointed, unless you’re a fan of the Ponies.
Each game for the rest of the season gets a little bigger and a little more important. The Bearcats have Uconn at home, at USF, home against Temple, then finally at Memphis.
It’s likely, that if the Bearcats can handle business the next three weeks, that UC and Memphis would meet in consecutive weeks. First to end the regular season and then again the following week for the conference championship. Beating the same team twice in back to back weeks is tough no matter who you are. We’ll see how these final weeks play out.
Coaches’ Poll – has 3 AAC teams ranked, UC the highest of any G5 at #17.
AP Poll – has 4 AAC teams ranked, UC the highest of any G5 at #17 too. Memphis at #19, SMU #23, and Navy #25. UCF would have come in at #26.
Cincy, UCF, Navy, Memphis, SMU, and Tulane are all now bowl eligible.
Beer of the Game
If you haven’t been to March First Brewing in Blue Ash recently or ever you really need to check it out. They have everything. Beer, seltzers, ciders, spirits, and food. You can’t have a bad time there. I had this beer earlier this week and it hit the spot. Flavors of bourbon, sweet maple, and vanilla will warm your soul.
Bearcats Bowl Projections
It’s still too early for this with so many scenarios still in play. They’re meaningless right now.