2019 is the 10 year anniversary of the Cincinnati Bearcats perfect regular season in 2009. Cincinnati went 12-0, won the Big East championship and played Florida in the Sugar Bowl in what was Brian Kelly’s third and final season as Bearcats head coach.
At Down the Drive, we will celebrate the team’s accomplishment from that season and remember some of the top moments and players. Let’s start with the quarterback position.
Two QBs started games in 2009 - senior Tony Pike and sophomore Zach Collaros.
- Started 9 games (played 10)
- Completed 62% of his passes, 2,250 yards, 29 TD, 6 INT
- Threw 2 or more TDs in every game he played
- Started 4 games (played 7 games games)
- Completed 75% of passes, 1,434 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT (8 TD, 1 INT in 4 games started)
- Third on team in rushing yards (344) and 4 rushing TDs
Summary of QB Situation
After starting 10 games in 2008, including the Orange Bowl loss vs Virginia Tech, Pike returned as the unquestioned starter and started the first 6 games. During that 6th game, on a Thursday night at USF, Pike suffered an injury (breaking the same arm he injured in 2008), forcing Zach Collaros into the lineup. He would start the next 4 games (winning all 4, of course).
Pike returned as a part time player during West Virginia game and started vs Illinois, before the famous Pitt game and later started in the Sugar Bowl game vs Florida in his final collegiate game.
Tony Pike’s top 4 moments from 2009
4. Second quarter vs Rutgers (week 1)
Pike completed 11-14 passes and threw 2 touchdowns in the second quarter of Cincinnati’s week 1 victory at Rutgers. Bearcats would lead 31-7 at halftime, after scoring 24 points in the second quarter.
These two teams opened the season in New Jersey on Labor Day and Cincinnati won the game 47-15, immediately setting the tone for what we all know became a special season. For the game, Pike threw for 362 yards and 3 TDs.
3. Off the bench, 2 TD passes vs West Virginia
Pike missed 4 starts due to an arm injury suffered against USF. He made a part-time return against West Virginia in the middle of November. He threw 4 passes, completing 2 of them for touchdown passes. Pike basically played the role of a red-zone option only, but at the quarterback position.
2. School record 6 TDs in return
The very next week, Pike made his official return, starting the day after Thanksgiving against Illinois. He threw 46 passes and gained 399 yards and threw for a school record 6 touchdown passes in a 49-36 victory.
1. “To the endzone it goes. Caaaaught! Touchdown! Armon Binns!”
I mean, does this require an explanation? I personally cried icicles in the upper deck of Heinz Field, as did many around me. This was the greatest sports moment I have ever seen live (and I have seen a LOT). This whole game was special. And we will have so much more coverage on this game throughout 2019.
This play and moment was so special that the Bearcats are giving out a bobblehead to commemorate the play to season ticket holders.
Zach Collaros’ top 4 moments from 2009
4. First road start
In his first road start, and second career start, Collaros threw a season high 4 touchdown passes in a 28-7 win at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse.
3. UConn game
This game was given the Saturday night ABC Primetime slot, with Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger on the call. If you like points, you would have liked this game. Cincinnati won 47-45 in a crazy game where Collaros threw for 480 yards and a touchdown and ran for two touchdowns as well. Bearcats produced 711 yards of total offense.
2. First career start vs Louisville
Collaros made his first career start in week 7 against Louisville. All he did was throw more touchdowns (3) than incompletions (2). He completed 15-17 passes for 253 yards in a 41-10 route of the Cardinals. I miss this rivalry.
1. His second play
I mentioned it above - in week 6, Pike suffered a broken arm and Collaros came in to replace him for the first meaningful action of his career. It was a Thursday night ESPN game and Cincinnati already lead 17-10 when he entered. No one knew much about Collaros at this point so many fans panicked, many were concerned and no one knew what to expect.
Well, after Isaiah Pead ran for nothing on first down, on second down (Collaros’ second play) helped alleviate some of that fan stress....
What is your favorite memory of these quarterbacks from 2009?