The Cincinnati Bearcats stampeded into Huntington, West Virginia and rounded up the Thundering Herd in convincing fashion, 52-14 to improve to 3-1. This was a game where there was never any doubt who the better team was from the opening kickoff, as Cincy shut out Marshall until the fourth quarter.
UC’s offense shot out of a cannon to start out. Sophomore quarterback, Desmond Ridder, tossed two touchdowns in the first, a 13-yard pass to Rashad Medaris and a 17-yard strike to Alec Pierce en route to a 14-0 lead. Speaking of Pierce, this was a career game so far for the Glen Ellyn, IL native. More on him shortly.
The drive that ended in the TD pass to Pierce was a mind-boggling 19 play, 64-yard drive that totaled 8:48. This was largely due in thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty on a crucial 3rd and goal at the Marshall 8-yard line. Ridder was actually sacked on the play, but the Marshall defender ripped off Ridder’s helmet during the sack, resulting in the penalty. This seemed to be the turning point of the game to me. If Marshall doesn’t commit that penalty then it was only a 10-0 game rather than 14-0, which is much easier to recover from early on.
Cincinnati totaled over 150 yards of offense in the first quarter, while Marshall’s offense struggled to even get a first down against the stout Cincinnati defense. This game was essentially sealed after the first quarter, to be honest, and UC continued to apply pressure on offense the rest of the way. Ridder was on his game (18/22, 221 yds, 4 TDs) and Cincy ran the ball down Marshall’s throat all day, good for 230 yards as a team.
Let’s get back to Alec Pierce. The 6’3 Sophomore came into the game with only two receptions for 61 yards. The relatively-unknown Pierce went off in this one, amassing six catches for 108 yards (18.0 avg) and his first-career TD. He was arguably the player of the game as he made several crucial catches early on, including that TD to cap off a long 8:48 drive. If Pierce can continue to show up like this, then the passing game will be even more lethal.
All in all, the Bearcats absolutely exploded on offense, putting up 525 total yards. The Cincy D, like usual, did their thing and held Marshall to only 256 yards, with only 131 of those coming from the air. They picked up two sacks as well and only allowed Marshall to 14 first downs.
When everything is going right, it all just clicks and sometimes you even get lucky. Just before halftime, Josiah Deguara scored on what the box score called a two-yard run. Deguara is the tight end by the way. The ball was actually fumbled by Ridder as he got hit on the throw, before the ball went falling forward a few yards, then Deguara came in and simply scooped-and-scored. That’s the kind of game UC had.
It was surprising to see Cincinnati dominate in the way that they did, and they may have even completed a shut out had Luke Fickell not put in the backups in the fourth quarter, not to argue Fickell’s decision at all. This was a positive sign to see Cincy play like this a week before they open conference play against the AAC giant, UCF.
I was initially doubtful Cincinnati would stand a chance to beat UCF before this season has started, but seeing how the Bearcats responded in the two games since playing Ohio State and how UCF lost to Pitt last week, there might be a chance. Especially if the frenzied Bearcat fans can have Nippert Stadium rockin’ like it was versus UCLA and Miami. In fact, dare I even say Cincinnati might be slight favorites in that one?
That might be a stretch, but I don’t tout them as heavy underdogs like the rest of the media most likely will. Cincinnati won’t get blown out 38-13 like they did last year in Orlando, that much is for sure. This one will be closer.
Besides, Cincinnati can’t afford another lopsided loss after what Ohio State did to them. Fickell and his guys have to show the nation they are legit, something no one has done against the Buckeyes so far so I don’t think anyone is really holding that against them. This next game will surely be a matchup of the titans within the conference, and whoever wins will most likely win the conference too.