That game reminded me of the Rocky Balboa-Apollo Creed fight in the first Rocky film. We knocked the champs down in the First Round. We hung on with a narrow lead until late in the fight.
In the original Rocky film, Creed emerges with a split-decision victory.
In the Cincinnati-Houston version of the film, Creed comes out at the start of the fifteenth round and knocks Rocky out cold, then proceeds to ground and pound him UFC style. Come to think of it, the fourth quarter of the Cincinnati-Houston game looked something like the CM Punk-Mickey Gall fight the other night.
Certainly, Cincinnati’s offense had difficulty moving the ball all night. Our offensive line got very little push in the running game, which prevented Tion Green and Mike Boone from getting much going on the ground. Hayden Moore had flashes of brilliance last night, but he came up small in the game’s most decisive moments. I think it is important to realize that Moore is a young player who is working with a still-inexperienced group of wide receivers.
Defensively, the Bearcats looked outstanding for three quarters. For much of the game, Heisman candidate Greg Ward. Jr. looked strikingly mortal. What appears to be UC’s 2016 bend-but-don’t-break defensive approach work well last night. The Bearcats avoided giving up very many big offensive plays.
If only the Bearcats could have been a little tougher on third downs. Ward’s ability to engineer first downs out of difficult third down situations is one of his greatest skills.
Cincinnati demonstrated its ball-hawking skills once again last night, picking off two of Ward’s passes, both in key situations. For most of the night, our secondary held their own against Houston’s outstanding pair of wide receivers, Linell Bonner and Chance Allen.
For three and a half quarters, the Bearcats played well and the 40,000-plus crowd made it difficult for Houston to hear much of anything. I think Coach Tuberville and his staff put their team in position to win against a more talented opponent, which is about all you can ask from a coaching staff in-season.
If Cincinnati can play like this and execute a game plan this well on a regular basis, they will win a lot of games this year.