This game was not very pretty to watch. It was relatively low-scoring, if you consider average college football games, but it was especially low for the Cincinnati Bearcats' offense that was previously averaging nearly 40 points a game. With a tough ECU team awaiting them on their own turf, it was a consensus among Bearcat fans that this was going to be a tough game to win, especially after the excuse of a game they played last week against USF. Yet, despite the overall shaky performance, the Bearcats had what I would consider their best win on the season (yes, better than the Miami Hurricanes victory). Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Saturday's victory.
It is often overlooked and undermined as nothing more than guaranteed points when the tee and kicker march onto the field, yet it is becoming a more and more reliable and versatile way of winning football games. Even in this game, two extra points were missed (which could have been a one-point loss for either team). The Bearcats have had the luxury of Andrew Gantz lining up and kicking them to victory two years in a row against the Pirates. Even some of the most dominant teams in the country don't have the assurance that the Bearcats do when they line up for a field goal. That is something to keep in mind heading into "Bowling Season".
Focusing on Today
Many teams have the problem of looking too far ahead into the future shortly after a big win or a bad loss. For example, take a look at the Ohio State Buckeyes and how they took Michigan State lightly while looking forward to their matchup with the Michigan Wolverines. This idea is often referenced by analysts as a "trap game". Last week, the Bearcats were flat out embarrassed by the USF Bulls when they were expected to walk away with a hard-earned victory. Sitting at 6-5, this last game really doesn't count for much considering that they will be heading to a bowl game with or without this victory. It was impressive to see Tuberville's control of his team in a game that was as hard fought as any in the country.
When winning, it is all fun and enjoyable, as everything seems to go your way. When it rains though, it pours. The true test of a team is it's ability to fight through the rain and find a way back into the fun aspect of winning. This past weekend, the Bearcats found themselves down by ten early. In weekend's past, the Bearcats allowed teams to snowball with momentum and dominate them in all facets of a game when things started to go bad (cough, USF, cough). Tuberville found a way to make his boys dig their feet into the dirt and grind back into the football game. Overall, balanced offensive focus and efficiency led them down the field to kick a game-winning field goal in conditions opposite what the Bearcats are used too. It may have only been ECU, but it was exactly the kind of victory that this team needed heading into their Bowl game.