Cincinnati has the opportunity to win its eleventh straight Victory Bell on Saturday as it hosts the rival Miami of Ohio RedHawks at Nippert Stadium. The annual rivalry game sees the Bearcats looking to bounce back after last week’s loss to #6 Houston. Miami, meanwhile, has lost three straight to start the season, including one vs. FCS Eastern Illinois.
In 1888, 19 years into college football’s existence, a 0-0 draw marked the first ever match-up between the Miami Redhawks and Cincinnati Bearcats. 128 years later, the two schools, separated by just under 40 miles, will go head-to-head for the 121st time in Saturday’s battle for the Victory Bell.
Currently, Miami holds a 59-54 lead in the series. However, recent history is in Cincinnati’s favor, with the Bearcats winning their past ten games against the RedHawks. Miami’s last win came in 2004, the season after Ben Roethlisberger left the school to join the Pittsburgh Steelers. Prior to his departure, Roethlisberger led the RedHawks to three consecutive victories in the series.
Chuck Martin is the head coach for Miami. He came to the school in 2014, having previously worked as an offensive coordinator at Notre Dame under Brian Kelly. His tenure has been rocky, as Martin has only a 5-22 record as the RedHawk head coach.
This season, the Bearcats have just been okay on offense. Quarterback Hayden Moore has accounted for seven touchdowns to go along with three interceptions. Despite only scoring 16 points in last week’s blowout against Houston, the Bearcats’ performance offered a few glimmers of hope.
Midway through the first quarter, Moore faked a handoff, stood tall in the pocket, and delivered a deep ball down the field to Devin Gray for a 61-yard touchdown pass. The Bearcats should continue to use their vertical passing game to defeat Miami.
Per advanced stats, Cincinnati is ranked 95th in the country in success rate on offense, meaning that it tends to have trouble moving the chains and keeping the yards they need on each down to a minimum.
Miami’s offense is averaging 416 total yards per game. Quarterback Billy Bahl has six total touchdowns and one interception. But even though they’ve picked up yards, Miami struggles to score, averaging only 20 points per game. Part of that is because of their running game, which has struggled to gain traction. Over the past three games, Miami is only averaging 3.2 yards per carry. The Redhawks are willing to run the football, but the production isn't there.
According to advanced stats, Miami’s rushing success rate is ranked as one of the worst in the country, so even Cincinnati’s below-average rushing defense should be capable of slowing down Miami’s running game.
Neither team is a defensive world beater, as both allow over 350 yards per game. The RedHawks have allowed just under 375 yards per game, less than the Bearcats’ 444.3 mark, but the Bearcats’ average is higher thanks to the 506 yards they allowed to Houston last week. The RedHawks, however, have allowed ten more points per game on average than the Bearcats have, despite facing lesser competition.
The Bearcats’ defense has been able to make big plays more often, having out-sacked the RedHawks six to four and out-intercepted them nine to two. Additionally, Cincinnati has more tackles for losses, with 18 compared to Miami’s 15.
At the end of the day, Cincinnati is 2-1 with their only loss coming against a top-ten ranked team in the nation in Houston and Miami's 0-3 record includes a loss to FCS team Eastern Illinois. There’s a reason the Bearcats are favored in this one, big.
It would be a shocker if any result comes from this game other than a UC victory. Despite the similar numbers on both sides of the ball, Miami has looked lost in its games so far this season, while Cincinnati has shown an ability to win games and even keep it close with one of the best teams in the country. It may not be a blowout, but expect the Bearcats to earn the W.