The first thing that I'm going to talk about regarding the 34-31 overtime win by the Louisville Cardinals over the Cincinnati Bearcats is not about the actual game. This was an excellent game. There was excitement down to the last play. The teams went back and forth, tooth and nail. And yet I'm not going to talk about that. There is something that's bothering me a lot more. The fan base.
If you haven't been following too closely, the second John Wallace's field goal went through the post, the Bearcats record flipped to 2-5. There is doom. There is gloom. The season is over. At least, that's what I've seen on twitter and on a few message boards. That is not the best fan demographic, but it's the loudest. I don't want to pick on fellow UC fans, but those people are being overly dramatic cry baby jagoffs. The last 2 weeks have been hard. The Toledo game was winnable. The game on Friday night was winnable. But not every game is going to turn out the way that we want it. Do you know how many undefeated teams there are in college football? 6. If winning games every week was easy, there would be 20 undefeated teams. It turns out that going on the road and beating tough teams is a hard thing to do! Who knew! People warned all of last week that Toledo was a dangerous team to play on the road. It's not the team's fault if certain people took them lightly because it said Toledo on their uniforms instead of Tennessee. The Tennessee loss last season was worse than the Toledo loss this season. People didn't hang themselves after that one. The Rutgers loss last year was worse than the Louisville loss on Friday night. Yet, last year people stuck by the team. This year, they seem to be falling off the bandwagon like it's in the path of Hurricane Sandy. A handful of plays in either game the past 2 weeks and maybe the Bearcats are undefeated. A couple of different plays in other games and maybe UC has 4 losses. But they are 5-2. UC is 15-5 the last 2 seasons. They lost 2 games this season by 9 points. You would think it was 900 the way people are talking. I don't know when Cincinnati sports fans turned into negative, whiny bitches about everything. The Reds and Bengals finished their last seasons in the playoffs. Cincinnati and Xavier just went to the Sweet 16. UC won 10 games last year. Look at how good things are and appreciate it. Stop looking at losses like they are the worst thing of all time and sports is not fair and wahhh wahhh wahhh. Things could be much worse than they are now. You could be a Cleveland fan.
First things first, this was a hell of a game. A Keg of Nails game had never been to overtime. This was historic in that sense. I'll talk about the blown leads and the questionable late game decision in a moment, but there were a ton of opportunities for things to come out different. The one thing that would never come out different is that both teams left it all on the field. There was no more effort either team could have expelled. Louisville had the offensive and defensive players of the week for the conference. If you weren't pumped up when Munchie threw the strike to KT to get UC in position for the pass to Julian, why are you watching? Games like that make following a team worth it. Win or lose, seeing the team with Cincinnati across it's chest leaving it all on the line on national TV should excite the fan base and the incoming recruits. That was one of the best Keg of Nails games in a long time.
I don't remember if I touched on this after the game, but I'm going to start with the second to last drive in regulation. 3rd and 5 at the Louisville 28, 2:46 left. The pass to Travis Kelce could have, and should have, been caught. It could have been a better throw, but Kelce had to haul that in. That said, I didn't agree with the play. The situation seemed to scream running play. Maybe that was even a 4 down situation considering it had started to rain and that was the windy side of the field. It seemed like too long a kick to settle for. Unfortunately, the Golden Toe Tony Miliano missed it.
Even having said that, the play worked. Kelce was wide open. That was a spot where UC could have run the clock down and not given Louisville much a shot to win. Tough break.
George Winn is so much better than I ever imagined he would be. The line has some to do with it since they are giving him space to run. Winn had 26 carries for 125 yards. Game in, game out George Winn is producing fantastic numbers. I wish he was a junior instead of a senior. I would like to keep watching him run over and run past people.
RDA IV's touchdown run where he stutter stepped the Louisville end and somehow turned the corner, and the jets, to score was beautiful. He is not slow.
It seemed for the longest time that the Cincinnati defense had Teddy Bridgewater on edge. They were able to get pressure on him with 3 sacks. 2 of them came early in the game. Bridgewater didn't make a lot of mistakes, but the one he made Maalik Bomar capitalized on with a big time interception. Bridgewater was 5-16 or 17 for 113 yards by my count.
That means that Bridgewater finished the game 19-24 or 25 for 303 yards. The only sack UC got late was in the desperation last drive of regulation when Cam Cheatham forced him to step up and Teddy fell down. Sometimes you have to tip your hat because the guy on the other team is great. Teddy Bridgewater is great. UC was just unfortunate that he figured some things out and tore the Cincinnati defense to shreds. Louisville does not win that game if Teddy Bridgewater isn't under center. I really believe that. Unfortunately for UC, he was. Even more unfortunately is that he's going to be back for another season.
One of the things that helped Bridgewater connect with his receivers was some good old fashion toast jobs on the corners. Cam Cheatham had a very rough series when Bridgewater went deep to Damian Copeland, who made a tremendous catch on a tremendous throw, then had DeVante Parker toast him on a 30 yard TD. Drew Frey had really improved in coverage last season, but he was exposed a little bit it appeared. Obviously I don't know the schemes or who's supposed to be in what area, but when one guy is repeatedly having the ball thrown over his head while he's chasing a Louisville receiver, that's getting beat in my book. Look for it on shelves November 23.
There were 3 50+ yard passes thrown on the secondary. That should never happen.
I don't know what in the hell happened on the 64 yard TD pass to Copeland. Deven Drane left the game with a hand injury, but that is no excuse for the OLE job he gave in his tackle attempt. The rest of the defense did a poor job in recovering as well. That would have been a horrible play to lose the game on. Thankfully that wasn't how it ended.
Munchie had a rough night, but the scoring drive he led with just under 2 minutes to go featured 2 tremendous throws. The 22 yard dart he threw past 2 Louisville corners to Kenbrell Thompkins was amazing. I think my response on twitter was HOW DID HE CATCH THAT PASS. The throw to Julian was another good throw. Drives like that are what make the following point so frustrating.
There is no excuse for the throw in overtime. He got greedy and just threw it up. He said after the game he was taking a shot to Kelce so he could go up and get it. I don't think he saw Kelce was double covered. At least I hope he didn't because if he did and that was his decision, that's a problem. It didn't matter because the throw was picked off at the goal line. It was a bad decision and a bad throw. Ultimately it was costly.
13-28 for 157, 1 TD and 3 INTs was not a great line. The biggest problem I have with his performance is why there weren't more called runs for him. Munchie turned the turner a couple of times on the Louisville defense. He ran for a touchdown. Yet, he only had a handful of carries. He's a legitimate option was a rusher. But UC doesn't call plays for him to run that often. I don't really get it. You have to put people in opportunities to succeed. Maybe he would have more opportunities if they called more runs for him. I don't know.
The defense bailed out Munchie on both of the early INTs. They didn't let turnovers lead into points. Overtime is different because Louisville started so close.
The Munchie fumble early in the 4th quarter was followed by Dominguez fumbling the punt. Lots of heart attacks. Many people died.
Damon Julian is the Bearcats number 1 receiver. I don't care what the stats say. Throw the ball up and that man will go get it. He's been a surprize out of nowhere. When the Bearcats need a big play, look to number 16. He did it against Tech, did it against Toledo and he did it again versus Louisville. Damon Julian only has 4 TD catches this season. 3 of them you can list off the top of your head.
I saw someone call Danny Milligan "Danny Thrilligan" on twitter. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. #Thrilligan
The Bearcats ran for 196 yards on 4.8 yards a carry. The offensive line can run block with anyone. 3 of the 4 Cincinnati touchdowns were from the ground game. The reason so many people want UC to run the ball more is because UC is very good at running the football. Hats off the guys up front.
Louisville ran for just 108 yards on 37 attempts. That was 2.9 yards a carry. Jeremy Wright got loose a little bit, 18-74, but Senorise Perry had 13-36 and Bridgewater ended up with negative yards. If you keep the actual yards he ran for, it was 3 carries for 12. That doesn't change things much. Hats off to the run D.
DeVante Parker had 4 catches for 120 yards. Damian Copeland had 5 catches for 96 yards. Andrell Smith had 2 catches for 63 yards. Eli Rogers had 4 catches for 39 yards. Scott Radcliff had 1 catch for 30 yards. That is a lot of people with 30 yards in receptions. Only 1 of those guys averaged under 10 yards a catch.
Greg Blair had 19 tackles. He had a sack and a half. Like George Winn, Blair has taken over a position where a beloved Bearcat put up big numbers and has made it his own. Like Winn, I'm disappointed that this is his last season. 51 is in on everything. I'm glad he's on our team.
It worked out well for UC, but that muffed punt rule is pretty god damn ridiculous. It would be one thing if UC got the ball back where McClung muffed it, but they would have gotten it at the 20. There are a lot of stupid rules in football, like everything involving what a catch is, but this little known one takes a high spot on that list.
We couldn't even get a booth review on the Deven Drane near INT? Call it an interception, call it incomplete. Just take a few minutes and look it over. It was a huge play in a tight game. The officials missed quite a few spots, not the first time that's happened in a UC game this year, but that was egregious.
I do wonder what the reaction would have been if UC won 17-16 and the penalty on Strong played a big deal. UC was able to pin Louisville back thanks to that penalty. The defense was able to make a play with the Cards back so deep. The offense cashed in. It would have been interesting.
Pat O'Donnell pinned Louisville back at the 11, the 17, the 20, the 11, and the 34. The punts to the 17 and the 34 were the worst ones. Louisville had 2 return yards. The man flipped field position all night long.
Ralph David Abernathy IV returned the first kick to the Louisville 48. UC scored a field goal. RDA IV returned the last kick to the UC 41, which set up the 2 minute drive. The Bearcats won all of the hidden yards. Special teams was a total 180 from last week. The put UC in good position all night long.
Did you really think we would get through this without the icing the kicker talk again? Icing the kicker is the worst. The worst. All Butch Jones could do was
because it would be hard to kick himself in the ass with how slick the field was.
Also, that picture is going nowhere. I love it.
Not only is the Keg of Nails gone, but Louisville did Keg stands after the game. Take our trophy, but do not steal our celebration.
Please show up for the Syracuse game. I know UC fans are quick to not fill up Nippert after a loss and especially for noon games, but show up and support the team. They only have 3 home games left. Go Bearcats, beat Syracuse.
Photos via Cincinnati.com