GAME NOTES: Fresh off their first bye of the season, the 22nd-ranked Ohio
State Buckeyes return to action against their second straight intrastate foe
as they entertain the Cincinnati Bearcats in non-conference action this
Cincinnati didn’t start its season until Sept. 12 when it took down Toledo,
58-34, and that was followed by a 31-24 triumph over Miami-Ohio. This is the
third straight game, but only the first on the road, in which coach Tommy
Tuberville’s squad will take on an opponent from within the Buckeye State. The
Bearcats will kick off their American Athletic Conference slate next Saturday
at home versus Memphis.
A month ago, there was a ton of hype surrounding Urban Meyer’s Ohio State
club, but that was before Heisman-hopeful quarterback Braxton Miller suffered
a season-ending shoulder injury. Since then, the Buckeyes have gotten past
Navy (34-17), lost at home to Virginia Tech (35-21), and blasted visiting Kent
State (66-0). OSU opens Big Ten Conference play next Saturday at league
Ohio State has dominated the series with Cincinnati, winning 13 of the
previous 15 matchups. The Buckeyes have won 39 straight games against in-state
opponents, and haven’t lost to a foe from the state of Ohio in the last 44
games (7-6 vs. Oberlin in 1921).
Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel has been on fire to start the season, as the Notre
Dame transfer followed his school-record tying six-touchdown performance in
the opener against Toledo by throwing for four more in last week’s win over
Miami-Ohio. Kiel wound up 25-of-39 for 271 yards against the RedHawks, but was
picked off twice. For the season, Kiel has completed 65.8 percent of his
throws for 689 yards (344.5 ypg) with 10 TDs and two INTs.
Both Mekale MaKay (12) and Shaq Washington (11) have double-digit receptions
on the season, with the former hauling in three scoring strikes. As for the UC
run game, Hosey Williams leads the way with 114 yards, but he has yet to find
the end zone. The Bearcats, as a team, have only two rushing scores, and they
average just 123.5 ypg on the ground.
Tion Green was high man for Cincy last week, logging 73 yards on 15 carries,
while Washington pulled in seven balls for 71 yards and McKay had a pair of TD
Cincinnati’s defense did a solid job against the run last week, yielding a
mere 102 yards on 44 attempts, but it allowed more than 20 yards per pass
completion in permitting 262 yards and a pair of scores through the air. A
total of eight sacks, 2.5 of which were credited to Brad Harrah, certainly
helped the overall effort. as did three takeaways.
The Bearcats stood strong with their backs to the wall, as the RedHawks put
points on the board on only one of their three trips to the red zone.
Jeff Luc was all over the field for Tuberville’s squad, logging 18 tackles,
2.5 of which were for negative yardage, including 1.5 sacks. Zach Edwards
tallied a dozen stops, while also coming up with an INT.
Cincinnati is giving up nearly 30 points and more than 463 yards per game, but
has recorded 11 sacks, four turnovers, and has allowed a combined 13 points in
the first and fourth quarters this season. Luc and Edwards rank one-two on the
team’s tackles list with 30 and 23, respectively.
While certainly pleased to come away with the victory, Tuberville knows his
team will have to play better against Ohio State.
“We will be at a different level next week. You have weeks like this, not to
take anything away from Miami, but this will be a fun week. We will go out and
get ready. It will be the shortest week yet this year. But I’m sure we will
get their best shot.”
Like Kiel did in his first outing of the season, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett
equaled his school’s single-game record by throwing for six touchdowns in the
Buckeyes’ shutout win over Kent State two weeks ago. Barrett, who assumed the
starting role when Miller went down in training camp, went 23-of-30 for 312
yards, becoming the first OSU signal caller to throw for 300 yards since
Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith did it against Michigan back in 2006.
The offensive line did a much better job than it did against Virginia Tech, as
it went from allowing seven sacks to the Hokies, to none for the Golden
Flashes. When the dust had settled, the Buckeyes had earned 33 first downs,
piled up 628 yards of total offense, and scored on 8-of-9 trips to the red
zone, including seven touchdowns.
Curtis Samuel paced the OSU rushing attack with 100 yards and two TDs on 15
carries, while a dozen different players caught at least one pass, with
Michael Thomas turning his two grabs into 77 yards and a pair of scores.
Conversely, Kent State tallied only 126 total yards (47 rushing, 79 passing),
committed three turnovers, were successful on only 2-of-14 third-down
opportunities, and failed to make significant progress toward the Ohio State
goal line. Raekwon McMillan spearheaded the Buckeyes’ defensive stand by
making seven stops, two of which were sacks.
For the season, Ohio State is outscoring the opposition by 23 ppg, while
outgaining them by 178.3 ypg — mostly due to a significant difference in
passing yards (263.0 ypg to 99.3 ypg). Barrett is a near-60 percent passer,
who has thrown nine TDs against five INTs, and Thomas is the leading receiver
with 11 grabs for 214 yards and four scores. Samuel heads a list of three
backs with more than 100 yards, turning his 27 totes into 171 yards and a pair
Joshua Perry, Tyvis Powell and Curtis Grant have all logged at least 22 stops
on the year, and the team as a whole has eight sacks and seven takeaways.
After the loss to Virginia Tech, and while admitting the competition level
wasn’t quite there, Meyer was happy with the overall effort put forth by his
team against Kent State.
“I thought our guys played well. Obviously a little talent advantage, but we
had to have a game like this.”
But never one to live in the past, or even the present for very long, Meyer
knows his team will need to perform even better against the Bearcats.
“Time to move on, a bye week, and then get ready. I watched Cincinnati last
night and they’re a very talented team, so we’re going to put everything we
can into it the next two weeks to win that game.”
While Ohio State has the obvious advantage of playing this game at home, the
Bearcats aren’t going to be intimidated. The Buckeyes have the edge in terms
of overall talent, but a rivalry game like this often takes on a life of its
own. Expect both teams to trade blows throughout, but OSU to prevail as it
keeps its run of dominance against in-state foes in tact.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 30, Cincinnati 24