Cincinnati Bearcats (1-1) host the Miami Redhawks (1-1) on Saturday for the Battle of the Victory Bell, a Bell that Cincinnati has kept each of the last 13 years.
Let’s look back at some of the most memorable moments and plays from those 13 years, starting with the origin of the streak in 2006.
2006 - The beginning
Cincinnati won in 2006, after losing three of the previous four years, and they haven’t lost since.
Coming off a three straight losses (Pitt, #1 Ohio State, #11 Virginia Tech), Cincinnati finally got to pick on someone their own size and they were led by Greg Moore who ran 20 times for 119 yards and a TD. Moore’s touchdown was at the end of the first quarter to give Cincinnati a 14-7 lead, and they never looked back from there.
2007 - Road losing streak snapped
Coming into this game, Cincinnati had lost 3 in a row at Oxford and gave up 44 (2005) and 42 (2003) the previous two games. Cincinnati jumped out to an early 16-0 lead after the first quarter. Miami turned the ball over 5 times (0 for Cincinnati), including two pick sixes and the Bearcats were able to cruise to a 47-10 victory.
2008 - Pike to Gilyard
Truthfully, this play wasn’t that special. In 2008, already up 10-3, QB Tony Pike threw a 30 yard touchdown pass to WR Mardy Gilyard.
What makes this play special in hindsight, is that this was the first of many TDs to come between the two, it just wasn’t known at the time how special this connection would be. This week 3 game was the first start of Pike’s career. He started in place of Dustin Grutza, who suffered a broken leg the week prior, at Oklahoma.
Pike finished his career with 49 TD passes, 4th on the school’s all-time list and Gilyard finished with 25 TD receptions, 2nd on the school’s all-time list. The fact that this was the first, and it came during the school’s first Big East Championship and BCS bowl game run, makes it even more special. Even if noone knew it was special at the time.
2009 - Jacob Ramsey Had a Day
Cincinnati ran a very pass-heavy offense in 2009, and this game specifically was no different. QB Tony Pike threw 42 passes and Ramsey led the team with 12 carries. That’s what makes his performance so special. He only ran 12 times, but went for 103 yards and 3 tocuhdowns, including one in the early fourth quarter, with the game still within reach for Miami. It was 23-13 entering the fourth, but Ramsey’s third TD sealed the deal for Cincinnati to win their fourth straight in this rivalry, en route to a perfect 12-0 regular season.
That’s the moment. The 2010 season was rough for Cincinnati. They followed up a 12-0 regular season with a disappointing 4-8 record in Butch Jones’ first season as Cincinnati head coach. One of the lone bright spots was Cincinnati beating their rivals 45-3. It was the second largest margin of victory for Cincinnati in 123 years of this series (largest was 1903 when Cincinnati won 46-0). Cincinnati broke this game open quickly, scoring on four of their first five possessions and leading 28-0 after the first quarter.
QB Zach Collaros threw 3 incomplete passes and 3 touchdowns. RB Isaiah Pead ran for an absolutely stupid 19.7 yards per carry, running just 10 times, and WR Armon Binns caught 5 passes (2 of which for TDs) and 115 yards.
Let’s just consider this whole game one, big giant moment.
2011 - Shutout
In 2011, Cincinnati shutout Miami, in Oxford, for the first time since 1898. It was the Bearcats’ first shutout of any kind since 2006.
Miami finished the game with -3 yards rushing. QB Zac Dysert was sacked four times and picked off once in the redzone.
Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead ran for 2 touchdowns and Cincinnati won 27-0.
2012 - Cam Cheatham Pick Six
Cincinnati beat Miami 52-14 in 2012, but the Redhawks struck first and led 7-0 after marching down the field on the opening drive - 7 plays, 75 yards in 3 minutes. Cincinnati would go three-and-out on their first offensive possession and momentum was clearly shifting towards Miami.
Miami QB Zac Dystert was able to move them into Cincinnati territory, inside the UC 40 yard line when Cameron Cheathem picked him off and ran it back 68 yards for a touchdown. The pick six put Cincinnati up 7-6 and, as evidenced by the final score, they never looked back.
2013 - Hosey Williams breaks the tie
Let’s just say, 2013 was not the most memorable game of this streak and possibly even of the all-time series, especially for Miami. The Redhawks had 4 total first downs and just 87 total yards of offense. Cincinnati controlled time of possession 37:00-23:00. Miami was 0-11 on third downs and 0-4 on fourth downs.
Yet, despite all of that, this game was tied 0-0 for 55 minutes. Cincinnati turned the ball over three times and missed a pair of field goals in the second half.
Cincinnati finally made something happen in the fourth quarter with a 16 play drive that last 7:41 and ended with RB Hosey Williams scoring from the 1 yard line, to break the scoreless tie.
Miami fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but it was negated by a penalty. But on their next offensive play, QB Austin Boucher was picked off and Cincinnati was able to tack on another 7 points 2 minutes later.
2014 - Gunner Kiel’s second start
Kiel, a highly touted 5 star, top 5 prospect out of high school left Notre Dame to transfer to Cincinnati. During his debut, he threw 6 TD passes in a win over Toledo and picked up right where he left off week 2 against Miami throwing 4.
The biggest TD came with a few minutes left in the first half, with Cincinnati trailing 14-10 Kiel hit WR Chris Moore for a 12 yard TD to give the Bearcats the lead.
After a Miami fumble, Kiel needed just 4 plays to throw his third TD of the half, this one to Mekale McKay to give Cincinnati a 24-14 halftime lead.
2015 - Hayden Moore’s heroics
Hayden Moore had a very weird career. But no season was weirder than 2015, his freshman season. Moore debuted week 1 vs Alabama A&M in garbage time. But in week 3 against Miami, saw his first significant playing time.
Moore entered the game in the second half, replacing injured Gunner Kiel. He turned the ball over four times - all four in the fourth quarter (two fumbles, two interceptions). The final turnover came with Cincinnati on the Miami 19 yard line, down by 3 points. On 3rd and 9, with just over 5 minutes to go, Moore’s ill-advised pass was picked off and Cincinnati would go back on defense, needing a stop. They got the stop forcing a three-and-out on Miami’s next possession.
On the final possession, Moore accounted for 60 of the 66 yards gained in just 3 minutes on a drive that ended with a 1 yard QB sneak for Moore into the endzone, giving Cincinnati the lead and the win by a final score of 37-33. Moore completed 3 passes for 50 yards and the TD run came with just 1:13 remaining on the clock.
2016 - Forced Fumble, leads to game winning TD
In 2016, Cincinnati trailed or was tied for most of the game. This was a 4-8 season for Cincinnati, in Tommy Tuberville’s final year. There were very few bright spots, but Cincinnati managed to get the victory and keep the Victory Bell.
Miami led the Bearcats 20-17, entering the 4th quarter and had the ball. Miami QB Billy Bahl was sacked by Marquise Copeland on 3rd and 13 and fumbled the ball, with Cincinnati recovering. Cincinnati would tie the game 5 plays later.
After Miami went three-and-out on their next possession, RB Tion Green capped off a 12 play, 64 yard, 5+ minute drive with a 2 yard TD that gave Cincinnati the lead.
2017 - Malik Clements Pick Six
This was it. Miami was going to do it. The streak was going to end at 11 years. Miami took a 14-3 lead into the 4th quarter. Miami kicked a field goal with less than 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter to take a 17-6 lead, which was supposed to seal the victory for the Redhawks.
But 1:53 later, after 73 yards on 8 plays, Cincinnati finally found the endzone on a 20 yard touchdown pass from Hayden Moore to Kahlil Lewis. Then, the fireworks happened...
Miami had the ball with just under two minutes to go in the game. They began the possession on their own 5 yard line after a horrible decision by Miami to attempt to run the kick out of the endzone. Following an ill-advised timeout, and a delay of game on third down and two yards to go (which helped stop the clock), this happened...
A 14 yard pick six for Cincinnati’s Malik Clements, put the Bearcats up 21-17 (after the extra point) to secure the victory in Luke Fickell’s first ever Battle for the Victory Bell.
2018 - Keep on truckin’
One week after RB Michael Warren broke onto the scene with 3 touchdowns in a win at UCLA, he ran for another two TDs to help pace the Bearcats. This was a very sloppy and rough game as the weather conditions were very poor. There is no better indication of that, then to see 51 rushing attempts to 11 pass attempts for Cincinnati.
QB Desmond Ridder ran for an even 100 yards and Warren carried the ball 29 times.
It was 7-0 entering the fourth quarter, so the decision for Miami to throw 41 passes in a monsoon and run just 19 times is puzzling, even if the running backs had no room to operate.
What are your favorite memories during the streak?