Justin Cashman | Staff Reporter
The Bearcats looked to come into Columbus on Saturday and defeat the Buckeyes for the first time since 1897. The last time these two teams met in 2014, Cincinnati lost 50-28 and went down in the all-time series 14-2. Despite the thought that they might be able to challenge the No. 5 team in the nation, the firepower of Ohio State proved to be to much for them, losing 42-0 in a lopsided game that it didn’t seem to many people it would have happened that way.
Following a season-opening win versus a Chip Kellyled UCLA team at home, Cincinnati looked to carry that winning momentum into their biggest game of the season the following week. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields picked up right where he left off from the previous week when he totaled five touchdowns against the Florida Atlantic Owls.
Cincinnati’s defense struggled to stop the run for the large majority of the afternoon, giving up 170 rushing yards by halftime and 356 total yards of offense. There were a few big plays by the ‘Cats defense in the first half despite the large amount of yardage given up, the biggest one being a huge stop on a 4th-and-1 1 quarterback draw by Justin Fields deep in Cincinnati territory by senior linebacker Perry Young.
One of the main factors as to why the Cincinnati defense couldn’t grasp a lot of momentum was due to the amount of penalties that they committed. Plays such as when sophomore safety Ja’Von Hicks stripped Buckeyes wide receiver K.J Hill Jr. following a 22-yard reception that would be recovered by Cincinnati was called back by a defensive holding penalty. A hands-to-the-face penalty by junior nose tackle Curtis Brooks and an offsides penalty by senior linebacker Bryan Wright would ultimately lead to Ohio State scores, putting OSU up 28-0 at halftime.
It seemed to take somewhat of a toll on the Bearcats when sophomore safety Kyriq McDonald appeared to suffer a seizure in the middle of the field during the second quarter on a seemingly normal play. McDonald does have a history of seizures and was reportedly alert and closely tended to after being carted off to the locker room. The entire Cincinnati sideline cleared out to meet one of their brothers on the field to give him their well wishes, with a few Ohio State players doing the same. Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell told media after the game that “It was a scary situation for everybody because you just don’t know…Had it not happened maybe we could have made it into a better game and got ourselves into the second half where we can make a challenge out of it”.
It seemed after the injury that Cincinnati couldn’t seem to find a whole lot of momentum and rally. The offense tried to lean on their primary offensive weapon Michael Warren II to pick up some big first downs on the ground and punish the defense with his hard-nosed running but was held to only 11 yards by halftime. This led to difficulties with Cincinnati’s offense as they looked to move the ball through the air more but still only managed 90 passing yards by halftime.
The struggles continued over into the second half as Cincinnati’s offense remained stagnant and the defense continued to struggle to stop the run. Ohio State would finish with 270 rushing yards on the day as a team. Fickell told the media, “I’m disappointed we couldn’t give them a real game…but we got to move on”.
There were a couple scoring opportunities for the Bearcats in the second half but the few times they found themselves in the red zone resulted in an interception on a tipped pass and a forced fumble about three inches away from a Tavion Thomas (So. RB) touchdown. Needless to say, the Bearcats will be motivated and determined to run through any team that is put in front of them for the rest of the season.
This was a great test for the Bearcats against one of the best teams in the nation and puts them at 1-1 on the season. Their next opponent will be Miami (OH) at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on September 14th. You can watch the game on ESPNU at noon E.T.
Top photo courtesy of: Jay LaPrete | Associated Press