Entering play as roughly two-touchdown underdogs, the Bearcats (1-0), who went 4-8 in each of the previous two seasons, played a defensively aggressive game and got big plays from the offense to take in a victory. Michael Warren did a lot of the heavy lifting on offense, rushing for 141 yards on 35 carries while scoring three touchdowns, including a critical score in the final minutes that cemented the victory. During that drive, Fickell went for it on fourth down twice. Warren’s effort was just what the Bearcats needed since Gerrid Doaks sat out, seemingly a decision from the staff to ease him back from injury.
Warren was the star, but Desmond Ridder really stepped up big at quarterback. While Hayden Moore returned to start the game, he lost a fumble on UC’s second possession and was benched for Ridder. A redshirt freshman, Ridder came in and went 13-for-24 for 100 yards and also added 63 yards on the ground.
While Ridder and Warren led the way offensively, it was really the defense that pushed the Bearcats to the win. Facing a UCLA (0-1) team in its first game under Chip Kelly and his high-tempo offense, the Bearcats allowed 306 yards and constantly put pressure on the Bruins, finishing with five sacks as a unit. They had 12 all of last season if you’re looking for context. Cortez Broghton came through for 3.5 of those sacks, while Bryan Wright added one of his own. The Bearcats defense even helped out in the scoring, tallying a safety in the fourth quarter that put UC ahead 19-17.
The Bearcats will celebrate tonight, but will be back to business quickly, as they get ready for the Battle for the Victory Bell against Miami-Ohio next weekend.