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27 Observations from Cincinnati’s Win over UCF

Bearcats snap UCF’s 18 game AAC winning streak with a 27-24 victory on Friday night.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Cincinnati Bob Meyer-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 4-1 on Friday, beating UCF for the first time since their first meeting in 2015. Knights fall to 4-2 and will now trail the Bearcats in the overall AAC standings. Cincinnati won the game 27-24.

In honor of those 27 points, here are 27 observations from Friday night’s victory.

  1. Nippert Stadium is the best atmosphere and toughest road environment in college football. Not the AAC, all of college football.
  2. Congrats to the CROWD! Most students (over 7,000) ever at a home game and the entire crowd was electric from start to finish (40,131 fans attendance).
  3. Cincinnati is now 15-3 since the start of the 2018 season and this win validates that they are a good team, not a lucky one with a soft schedule.
  4. Cincinnati being able to hang around all game was amazing, considering they ran 7 plays in the first quarter. UCF completely dominated time of possession and the overall game.
  5. However, Knights ran 28 plays on two drives and came away with 3 points total.
  6. All night, the defend would bend, not break - two touchdowns came from when UCF started a drive on the 12 yard line following an interception, and a 93 yard drive in under a minute with 4 minutes to go, when the defense seemed to get a bit laid back.
  7. If you give RB Michael Warren the ball enough times, he eventually will break free.
  8. True freshman CB Ahmad Gardner has a chance to be a star - pick six and a huge third down tackle in the first half.
  9. CB Cam Jefferies also came to play, with an interception and a couple of pass deflections.
  10. Punter James Smith deserves to win the Ray Guy Award in 2019, after coming up short as a runner-up in 2018.
  11. Offensive Line, for all the mistakes, criticisms, penalties, and struggles, played much better in the second half. They allowed just one sack and committed just one holding penalty. Huge improvement from previous weeks.
  12. It’s going to suck when Marcus Freeman is not at Cincinnati in 2020 (either making over $1 million to coordinate a Power 5 defense or a Head Coach).
  13. Defensive game plan was absolutely amazing. It involved 23 different guys playing, to rotate and keep everyone fresh throughout the game.
  14. Based on the performance of the secondary vs UCF, DBs Coach Mike Mickens was born for the Defensive Coordinator job.
  15. UCF Head Coach Josh Heupel may not be cut out for this job long term.
  16. As much as we have criticized Cincinnati for committing too many penalties, UCF was really bad in committing self-inflicted wounds, that forced them into second-and-long and third-and-long situations all night.
  17. Cincinnati’s play calling still leaves a lot to be desired.
  18. QB Desmond Ridder is who he is, and fans will need to live with it. He’s a quarterback who takes a lot of chances - hits some, misses some. He is sometimes erratic with his throws and is playing behind a poor offensive line.
  19. Ridder is also a bit too reckless and careless at times, which led to a couple of injuries last night.
  20. Can’t wait to watch TE Josiah Deguara play on Sundays next fall. He led Cincinnati with 5 catches, but just does all the small things that don’t show up in a box score, that makes him so valuable to this offense.
  21. WRs Trent Cloud and Alec Pierce are continuing to get better and better each week, though Pierce only caught on pass on Friday (it was a touchdown).
  22. The win is the Bearcats first over a ranked team since the famous Pitt win in 2009. And two weeks prior to that, Cincinnati beat West Virginia at home.
  23. Good to see kicker Sam Crosa hit both of his field goals. Kicking game has been a question mark for Cincinnati, seemingly for a decade now. Hopefully that can build confidence in Crosa and the coaching staff, because they will need to kick field goals to win games in conference.
  24. Credit to Luke Fickell for the gutsy call at the end. With a minute to go, on 4th and 1, Fickell opted to go for the one yard, rather than punt. If Cincinnati got it, the game was over. If they failed, UCF got the ball near midfield, no timeouts and one a minute to go. Fickell took his chances and Ridder converted the biggest 1 yard of his career.
  25. Turnovers were a major difference - Cincinnati’s defense forced 4, compared to just one for UCF.
  26. Winning the AAC Championship and representing the Group of Five in the Cotton Bowl are both very realistic goals for the rest of the season
  27. But first, Cincinnati has to win at Houston next Saturday