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What We Learned From Cincinnati’s Win Over Tulane

Or how the Bearcats pulled off an escape act.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

You can argue that the Cincinnati Bearcats didn’t really deserve to win against Tulane yesterday. After all, a last second field goal miss was all that separated them from a sixth-straight loss. But that doesn’t matter. Merek Glover’s attempt was wide left and the Bearcats won the game. They are now 3-6 overall and no longer winless in American Athletic Conference play. Here are some other things we know now.

Gerrid Doaks is the truth and the running game is good

He has been developing before our very eyes and the freshman running back is now the best back on the roster. He rushed for 149 yards on 17 carries, both team-highs, and was easily the most critical offensive contributor. Doaks’ work went a long way for UC’s ability to move the ball on the ground, which has only gotten better of late. The Bearcats rushed for 208 yards against Tulane, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. They had the exact same average a week ago when they racked up 249 yards against SMU. So that’s two very effective weeks from the backfield, all led by Doaks. There’s no reason not to believe it won’t continue the last three games of the season.

Dontrell Hilliard can be stopped

At least for a week. Hilliard is still third in the AAC in rushing yards (808) but the Tulane running back had a season-low 40 yards on 18 carries on Saturday. It was the most impressive thing this Bearcats defense has done all season, as it just didn’t let Hilliard break lose at any point. This seems less likely to continue the rest of the way.

Third down is still a problem for UC and Tulane

This isn’t a Tulane blog, obviously, so who really cares that the Green Wave struggled on third down? That’s a fair question, but I for one learned that their third down troubles are real. They went just 4-for-12 in such situations yesterday and are still last in the league in the category, with just a 36.67 percent success rate. Unfortunately, the Bearcats aren’t much better, sitting just one spot ahead of Tulane (38.06 percent). The same was true yesterday when they went 4-of-11.

Hayden Moore is fine when he doesn’t have to do much

With the running game excelling, especially Doaks, Moore was not asked to win the game offensively. He was just asked not to mess up and he didn’t. He wasn’t picked off or sacked once and finished with 248 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-27 passing. Is that Heisman-level work? Absolutely not, but when you can run for 200 yards, it’s more than enough to supplement a winning effort. Granted, only scoring 17 points means the offense wasn’t that great but that’s a conversation for another day.

UC’s bowl chances are still alive

Barely, but at 3-6, with winnable games the rest of the way, the Bearcats have a chance and an improved one. Prior to the game against Tulane, they had a seven percent chance to win out, which is what they would need to do to make a bowl. After beating Tulane, that number jumped up to 24.7 percent. Next up, they will have to beat Temple. Then East Carolina. Then UConn. For now, let’s worry about the Owls.