CFN Take: Cincinnati Beats UH, Co-AAC Champs
Cincinnati Bearcats 2014 ...
Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville
Dec. 6 at Cincinnati 38, Houston 31
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 OPEN DATE
Sep. 6 OPEN DATE
Sep. 12 Toledo W 58-34
Sep. 20 Miami Univ. W 31-24
Sep. 27 at Ohio State L 50-28
Oct. 4 Memphis L 41-14
Oct. 11 at Miami L 55-34
Oct. 18 at SMU W 41-3
Oct. 24 USF W 34-17
Oct. 31 at Tulane W 38-14
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 13 East Carolina W 54-46
Nov. 22 at Connecticut W 41-0
Nov. 29 at Temple W 14-6
Dec. 6 Houston W 38-31
And You Care Because … In a wild shootout, the Cincinnati defense held in the final moments as Houston’s fourth down pass play into the end zone to try to force overtime fell incomplete to give UC a piece of the American title. Mike Boone ran for three short touchdowns for the Bearcats and Gunner Kiel threw two scoring passes, but Greg Ward Jr. and the Houston offense wouldn’t go away. Ward found Markeith Ambles for an 89-yard touchdown early in the fourth, and pulled within seven on a 26-yard pass play to Demarcus Ayers with just over five minutes to play. But that was as close as the Cougars would get, stalling on the final play on the UC 11.
What Else? Total yards: Houston 594 – Cincinnati 500
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 15-of-24 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and Munchie Legaux completed 10-of-14 passes for 158 yards
- Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 27-of-45 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 11 times for 84 yards and a score
- Cincinnati RB Mike Boone ran 17 times for 85 yards and three touchdowns
Game Rating: A-
Nov. 22 Cincinnati 41, at Connecticut 0
And You Care Because … It was all Cincinnati from the start, with Gunner Kiel finding Nate Cole on a six-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, and Mike Boone scored on a three-yard touchdown run to spark a 20-point run in the final 9:13 in the third. Andrew Gantz hit two field goals, and Kiel found Jake Golic on a two-yard pass. UConn turned it over three times, with the mistakes leading to points, including an 18-yard Johnny Holton catch early in the third.
What Else? Total yards: Cincinnati 425 – Connecticut 129
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 17-of-30 passes for 161 yards and three scores with a pick, and ran five times for 28 yards
- Connecticut QB Tim Boyle completed 13-of-21 passes for 70 yards
- Cincinnati RB Rodriguez Moore ran 21 times for 108 yards and a score
Game Rating: D-
Nov. 29 Cincinnati 14, at Temple 6
And You Care Because … The Bearcats earned a piece of the AAC title, getting all the points they’d need in the second quarter on a three-yard Mekale McKay touchdown catch and a one-yard Mike Boone run. The defense did the rest, setting up the first score on a forced fumble, and allowing just two field goals. The Owls got a 30-yard Austin Jones field goal in the first, and a 31-yard kick in the third, and that was it.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 19-of-31 passes for 174 yards and a score
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 19-of-35 passes for 196 yards, and ran 12 times for 33 yards
- Time of possession: Temple 33:06 – Cincinnati 26:54
- Total yards: Temple 267 – Cincinnati 255
Game Rating: C
Nov. 13 at Cincinnati 54, East Carolina 46
And You Care Because … Andrew Gantz connected on a 47-yard field goal with 15 seconds to play to give the Bearcats a 48-46 lead and the win, but it took a wild rally to overcome a huge mistakes. UC went for it on 4th-and-2 from its own 33-yard line, but a fumbled pitch led to a Shane Carden touchdown run with just over a minute to play for a 46-45 lead, but the two-point conversion attempt failed. The Bearcats went 35 yards in 47 seconds to give Gantz the chance, and he made the most of it. Gunner Kiel threw four touchdown passes including a 66-yarder to Chris Moore and a 55-yard scoring play to Mekale McKay on the way to a 45-34 lead, but ECU fought back in the fourth quarter with a Carden seven-yard touchdown pass to Cam Worthy and the run to take the late lead.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 29-of-44 passes for 436 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 35-of-61 passes for 418 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a score
- Total yards: Cincinnati 586 – East Carolina 572
- East Carolina WR Justin Hardy caught 15 passes for 181 yards and a score, and Mekale McKay caught nine passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: A-
Oct. 31 Cincinnati 38, at Tulane 14
And You Care Because … Cincinnati dominated from the start with a 24-0 first half lead helped by two Munchie Legaux touchdown passes and a Sam Geraci punt return for a touchdown. The Green Wave tried to rally back, getting two touchdowns in the third quarter on a Lazedrick Thompson touchdown run and a ten-yard Charles Jones catch, but Legaux put it away on an 18-yard throw to Shaq Washington.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Munchie Leqaux completed 16-of-24 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran three times for 16 yards
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 24-of-35 passes for 205 yards and a score
- Cincinnati RB Rodriguez Moore ran 15 times for 124 yards and Mike Boone ran 15 times for 113 yards and a score
- Tulane RB Dontrell Hilliard ran 11 times for 123 yards
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 24 at Cincinnati 34, South Florida 17
And You Care Because … Before getting knocked out of the game with hurt ribs, Gunner Kiel threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Holton and ran for a 17-yard touchdown as Cincinnati got up 27-3. In for Kiel, Munchie Legaux ran for a nine-yard score, and Andrew Gantz helped the cause with two field goals. USF switched up quarterbacks in the fourth and got a Seven Bench 67-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Adams and a 38-yarder to Andre Davis, but the Bearcats stayed ahead on a seven-yard Mike Boone run.
What Else? Turnovers: USF 4 – Cincinnati 3
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 13-of-22 passes for 196 yards and a score, and ran five times for 20 yards and a touchdown. Munchie Legaux stepped in and completed 14-of-15 passes for 121 yards, and ran six times for six yards and a score.
- USF QB Steven Bench completed 9-of-14 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike White completed 11-of-19 passes for 92 yards and two picks
- Cincinnati RB Mike Boone ran 19 times for 212 yards and a touchdown, and WR Shaq Washington caught 12 passes for 163 yards
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 18 Cincinnati 41, at SMU 3
And You Care Because … Helped by four SMU turnovers and several misfires, Cincinnati blew past SMU with five different Bearcats scoring. Gunner Kiel found Johnny Holton for a 23-yard score and Nick Temple took a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown as part of 24-point second quarter. Andrew Gantz hit three field goals for UC, while SMU only managed a 29-yard Cody Rademacher field goal in the first quarter.
What Else? Total yards: Cincinnati 508 – SMU 276
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 131-of-20 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, and ran six times for 50 yards
- SMU QB Garrett Krstich completed 17-of-31 passes for 172 yards and two interceptions
- Cincinnati threw for 268 yards and ran for 240
Game Rating: D-
Oct. 11 at Miami 55, Cincinnati 34
And You Care Because … Duke Johnson tore off an 80-yard touchdown run on Miami’s first play from scrimmage, and Brad Kaaya threw three touchdown passes finding Phillip Dorsett from 28 and 79 yards away. The defense got into the act with a 46-yard Tyriq McCord 46-yard interception return for a score on the way to a 41-13 Hurricane lead going into the fourth, and Kaaya put the game well out of reach with a one-yard scoring run in the fourth.
What Else? Total yards: Miami 621 – Cincinnati 422
- Miami RB Duke Johnson became the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards. He ran ten times for 162 yards and a touchdown
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 31-of-57 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions
- Penalties: Miami 13 for 155 yards – Cincinnati 5 for 54 yards
Game Rating: B-
Oct. 4 Memphis 41, at Cincinnati 14
And You Care Because … Cincinnati scored on a 80-yard Mekale McKay touchdown catch on the first play of the game, and then it was all Memphis with Paxton Lynch throwing touchdown passes to Tevin Jones and Adrian Henderson in the first half, and running for two ten-yard scores. The Bearcats were only able to come up with a five-yard Rod Moore touchdown run the rest of the way, with QB Gunner Kiel having a rough day after the first pass and getting injured with banged up ribs.
What Else? Total yards: Memphis 610 – Cincinnati 352
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 18-of-25 passes for 311 yards and two scores, and ran 12 times for 45 yards and two touchdowns
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 11-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown with an interception
- Time of possession: Memphis 40:55 – Cincinnati 19:05
Game Rating: D+
Sept. 27 at Ohio State 50, Cincinnati 28
And You Care Because … The two quarterbacks put on a show with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett throwing four touchdown passes but Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel hanging around with four scoring throws of his own including a 78-yarder to Chris Moore in the third quarter to pull the Bearcats within five. But OSU scored 17 unanswered points on a Barrett 24-yard touchdown pass to Dontre Wilson and a 34-yard throw to Devin Smith, who also caught a 19-yarder late in the first quarter. Moore also caught touchdown passes of 60 and 83 yards out for UC.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 21-of-32 passes for 352 yards and four scores, and Chris Moore caught three passes for 221 yards and three scores and a 73.7 yard average.
- Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 26-of-36 passes for 330 yards and four scores
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 28 times for 182 yards and a score
- Time of possession: Ohio State 41:56 – Cincinnati 18:04
Game Rating: B
Sept. 20 at Cincinnati 31, Miami University 24
And You Care Because … Gunner Kiel threw four touchdown passes including a 29-yarder to Johnny Holton in the third quarter to bounce back from a 74-yard touchdown catch from MU WR David Frazier, who started out the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown catch, but the Bearcat O sputtered in the fourth and had to hang on. Andrew Hendrix threw two touchdown passes for the RedHawks, but he could only lead the offense to a field goal in the fourth.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 25-of-39 passes for 271 yards and four scores with two picks
- Miami University QB Andrew Hendrix completed 13-of-26 passes for 262 yards and two scores with a pick, but he was stuffed for -7 yards on 17 carries.
- Third down conversions: Miami University 8-of-15 – Cincinnati 7-of-14
- Turnovers: Miami University 3 – Cincinnati 2
Game Rating: B
Sept. 12 At Cincinnati 58, Toledo 34
And You Care Because … Welcome to the Gunner Kiel era. The new Cincinnati quarterback threw six touchdown passes with three of them on the way to a 34-0 first half lead, but Toledo made this really, really interesting. Logan Woodside threw three touchdown passes and found Alonzo Russell twice to help get the Rockets within 41-34 in the fourth, but Kiel and the Bearcats took control again in the fourth on the way to 17 unanswered points, putting the game away with a 22-yard scoring play to Shaq Washington.
What Else? That’s exactly what you wanted to see out of the new quarterback – Cincinnati might really be that good if Gunner Kiel can keep doing this. He was fantastic, completing 25-of-37 passes for 418 yards and six touchdowns, but he had some help. The entire offense worked – Hosey Williams ran well, taking off for 103 yards on 14 carries.
- It took a little while for Toledo to wake up, but that offense is going to be terrific as the season keeps rolling. Logan Woodside completed 27-of-40 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns with Alonzo Russell catching five passes for 114 yards and two scores.
- It didn’t take much time for Cincinnati to come up with the explosion, cranking out 584 yards in 24:48. Toledo held the ball for 35:12.
- The Toledo running game was excellent, with Kareem Hunt running 12 times for 101 yards and a score and Marc Remy averaging 7.3 yards per carry with 80 yards on 11 carries. The line did a great job.
Game Rating: B
Abandoned at the realignment altar, the Bearcats will now turn their attention to dominating the American.
Cincinnati has quietly been one of college football steadiest programs in recent years, winning no fewer than eight games in seven of the past eight seasons. Still, it got no love from the likes of the ACC or the Big Ten when the realignment carousel was spinning out of control in recent years. Second-year head coach Tommy Tuberville wants to use the perceived slight as a motivational tool as he keeps working to ramp up the culture on campus. Now that Louisville and Rutgers have left town, the Bearcats ought to be perennially competing for league titles.
Coaches change, yet Cincinnati keeps rolling along, without any interruptions. Tuberville is the latest coach to succeed in the Queen City, following in the footsteps of Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Cincinnati had a couple of slip-ups in 2013 to Illinois and South Florida before capturing six games in a row, including wins over bowl-bound Rutgers and Houston, to finish 9-4. Things could get even more interesting for Tubby in 2014, now that former Notre Dame QB Gunner Kiel is eligible to play.
Kiel hasn’t been handed anything this offseason, despite a solid outing in the spring game. But it’s doubtful the former five-star recruit will be benched, even when fifth-year senior Munchie Legaux returns this summer from last year’s horrific season-ending knee injury. Kiel, assuming he wins the job, will be surrounded by a deep cast of playmakers at running back and wide receiver. Cincinnati has been among the league’s most potent offenses over the past five seasons, a trend unlikely to change in 2014.
Five starters are gone on defense, with the biggest hole being right up the middle. The Bearcats must replace both starting defensive tackles and all-star MLB Greg Blair. DT Jordan Stepp was named First Team All-AAC in 2013, while Blair led the team in tackles the past two seasons. Cincinnati has historically been stout against the run, a recent leaning that’ll be severely tested in 2014.
Cincinnati remains one of college football’s better-kept secrets, but hardly by choice. Since 2006, the Bearcats have gone 74-30, despite using four different head coaches over that time. Yet, the program gets about as much respect as a 32-yard field goal. Tuberville is unfazed by his team’s Q rating. Now that he’s had a year at the helm, he wants to keep Cincy on a winning track, while becoming the new gatekeeper atop the American.
What to watch for on offense: Whoever wins the quarterback job will absolutely love his supporting cast. The Bearcats are loaded at the skill positions with speed, size and diversity. Tuberville is so happy with backs Hosey Williams and Tion Green that he’s permanently shifted all-purpose playmaker Ralph David Abernathy to slot receiver. Abernathy joins a corps welcoming back five of last season’s top six pass-catchers. Chris Moore and Mekale Mckay, who turned 16 catches into 485 yards and seven touchdowns, can stretch out defenses with their speed and general big-play potential. The backs and receivers will keep opponents guessing and frustrated all season long.
What to watch for on defense: Shoring up the middle of the D. Cincinnati allowed just 3.2 yards per carry in 2013, good for No. 7 nationally. But maintaining that stoutness will be difficult without the services of MLB Greg Blair and tackles Jordan Stepp and Adam Dempsey. Senior Jeff Luc, the high-profile transfer from Florida State, has transitioned from weakside to middle, which should help solidify the linebackers. Out of sophomore Alex Pace, junior Brandon Mitchell and up-and-down senior Camaron Beard, the Bearcats are hoping to piece together a viable tackle rotation for this season.
The team will be far better if… it shores up special teams. The Bearcats did a lot of things well in 2013, but special teams were not one of them. They ranked 121st nationally in net punting, yielding over 15 yards a return, while getting little or no spark out of their own return men. There’s an awful lot to like about Cincinnati in 2014, especially with the addition of Kiel at quarterback. But, it’ll remain an incomplete program until it can tighten things up in all three phases of the game.
The Schedule: It's an odd slate in terms of getting it off the ground - most teams will be two games in before the Bearcats kick the season off against Toledo. And then
it's eight straight weeks of games before getting a break, and along the way,
Saturday games become a memory with two Friday night games (USF, at Tulane) and
a Thursday-nighter (East Carolina) over the course of a month. Home dates are
also few and far between just two home games between October 4th and December
6th. In conference play, key games against USF and East Carolina are at home,
and there aren't too many big away battles - SMU and Connecticut are the
toughest ones. Can the Bearcats make a statement in non-conference action
against Ohio State and Miami on the road? If they can win just one of those two,
a monster season might be there - it they can hold up.
Best offensive player: Senior LT Eric Lefeld. On an offense built from the interior out, the unit’s signature player is fittingly a lineman. Lefeld is a returning All-AAC First Team performer, a striking ascent for the one-time unheralded two-star recruit. The 6-6, 309-pound former D-lineman and hoops star plays with the light feet and athleticism inherent to all really good pass blockers, kicking out and sealing off the perimeter. Lefeld is a central reason why Cincinnati has been no lower than second in the league in sacks allowed in each of the last three years.
Best defensive player: Junior DE Silverberry Mouhon. Mouhon is on the verge of becoming the latest in a growing line of Bearcats’ pass rushers to continue playing at the next level. He emerged into a force a year ago, often requiring more than one blocker to keep him out of the backfield. When Mouhon pins his ears back and head upfield, he makes the job of the defensive backs and his fellow linemates substantially easier. He’s about to become a household name, particularly within pro scouting circles.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Gunner Kiel. Cincinnati didn’t land one of the biggest names of the 2012 recruiting class to have him wallow on the bench with a clipboard in his hands. Tuberville wants to turn Kiel loose so that he can build off predecessor Brendon Kay’s final year. The Bearcats have a dizzying mix of playmakers, especially in the receiving corps. It’s going to be up to Kiel to maximize the ability of those pass-catchers by hitting the ground running in his Bearcat debut. If Kiel stumbles, the team will be forced to employ Munchie Legaux, who’s coming off major knee surgery, or JUCO newcomer Jarred Evans.
The season will be a success if ... the Bearcats win the American. Louisville is in the ACC. Rutgers plays in the Big Ten. Blake Bortles left UCF to play in the NFL. The road to a title is highway-wide for Cincinnati. It’ll be battled-tested coming off a salty non-conference schedule that includes trips to Ohio State and Miami, and East Carolina and Houston will visit Nipper Stadium. If quarterback play lives up to expectations, the Bearcats have every reason to be aiming for a third league title since 2008.
Key game: Nov. 15 vs. East Carolina. The American will be wide-open this season, with a number of teams vying for the crown. UCF isn’t on Cincinnati’s schedule. East Carolina is, and the Pirates are eyeing supremacy in their maiden voyage in a new league. This duel at Nippert Stadium could wind up being a quasi-semifinal game, with the winner remaining alive until the first Saturday of December. The Bearcats also host Houston on Dec. 6, a game that might not have as much relevance if they can’t first handle ECU.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Third-down%: Cincinnati 48% – Opponents 33%
- Yards per game: Cincinnati 472.1 – Opponents 315.6
- Sacks: Cincinnati 35 - Opponents 17
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