The Cincinnati Bearcats are set to open up their 2021 college football campaign against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks.
Hailing from the across the Buckeye state, the RedHawks have called the Bearcats their rivals since the first Battle for the Victory Bell matchup back in 1888.
Q: What is the longest-standing out-of-conference feud in college football history?
A: The Battle for the Victory Bell
In the 133-year history of the Battle for the Victory Bell rivalry, there have been 59 Miami victories, 58 Cincinnati Bearcats triumphs and seven ties. UC currently holds the longest winning streak in the series with 14 consecutive wins. Miami, on the other hand, hasn’t conquered their in-state foes since 2006
The Bearcats won the last meeting between the two teams on September 14th, 2019, by a score of 35-13.
Miami (Ohio) 2020 Season Review
First and foremost, it’s fairly challenging to judge Miami based on the 2020 season alone. The RedHawks played in only three games last year due to COVID-19 concerns, and what we saw really wasn’t up to par with the past. It served as a bit difficult to point out the pros and cons, but here’s what we got:
Pros: They handed the eventual MAC Champion, Ball State, it’s only defeat.
Cons: Pretty much everything else.
An inexplicable blowout loss against Buffalo, cancelled games and a less than-stellar offense hindered what was the defending MAC champion’s 2020 season.
Does that continue into 2021? Who knows. But one has to wonder whether a step back could derail the schools future direction-like we’ve seen with so many previously successful group of five teams in the past.
Miami (Ohio) Offense
An already dreadful run game sees its leader-Zach Kahn-depart from the program. The duties now rest on Jaylon Bester along with Tyre Shelton and Kevin Davis.
Bester enters his senior season after not seeing the field in 2020. He tallied 171 rushing attempts for 741 yards and 14 touchdowns in his junior season back in 2019. Shelton’s best also came two years ago when he cashed in 108 carries for 587 yards and two TD’s.
The pass attack suffers from uncertainty with two different guys-Brett Gabbert and AJ Mayer-vying for the starting job. Gabbert saw himself receive a 65.7% completion percentage subsequent to him throwing 23 completions on 35 attempts for 384 yards and four TD’s. His accomplice fell short with a 46.9 CMP% and 23 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns.
The receiving core does have some big names returning, but the overall result will depend on who steps up under center.
Notable Departures: RB Zach Kahn, OC Danny Godlevsk and OT Tommy Doyle
Miami (Ohio) Defense
Perhaps the biggest strength for Miami comes on the defensive side of the football. The RedHawks boast one of the top prevention’s statically in the MAC, with an A+ tier pass rush leading the way. They averaged four sacks per game and are expected to return a whopping ten starters on the defense.
The team’s best defensive player comes in the form of DE Kameron Butler, a 6-foot-3, 252-pound junior pass rusher. His highlight reel features a most note-worthy 2019 campaign in which he reeled in 45 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss.
The secondary has its ups, too. Sterling Weatherford and his 143 career total tackles lead the way at safety. The outside sees a takeover of the reigns by Cedric Boswell, a redshirt senior who’s tallied 25 tackles in two seasons with the RedHawks.
Still though, Miami’s overall outcome comes down to the weaker spots. Guys like CB Ja’Von Kimpson (A redshirt freshman) are necessities to step up big time in order for the team prevent booming pass attacks.
Notable Departures: CB Emmanuel Rugumba
So, what’s our consensus?
A challenging but manageable test for the Bearcats.
We expect Cincinnati to bottle up the lackluster Miami offense with ease. The RedHawks just don’t have the talent needed to compete at a high level, and with most of the UC’s strength on defense returning, there’s just no hope in finding progression on the field.
That being said, the other side of the football might be a different story. Desmond Ridder will have to deal with a ruthless pass rush that prides itself in being one of the best in the region. And while Miami’s secondary certainly isn’t the cream of the crop, one must wonder whether simple follies become a common theme early on.
Expect for UC to come away with the W, but receive some minor scratch marks along the way.
Score prediction: 38-13
Expectations for Miami (Ohio) this season
If the 2020 season was an indicator of anything, it’s that Miami (Ohio) will have some tougher than usual competition within the MAC. The RedHawks do avoid a matchup against one of the conference’s top teams in Toledo, but skirmishes against Ball State and Buffalo (2020 MAC Championship participants) could spell trouble.
Oh, and the defense-despite owning immense talent-will have its hands full. Six teams from the conference finished in the top 50 for overall offense in the FBS, including Kent State (No. 1), Toledo (No. 13), Western Michigan (No.16), Buffalo (No. 18), Ball State (No. 27) and Central Michigan (No. 44).
Likely wins: LIU, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Akron, @ Ohio and Bowling Green
Tossups: Buffalo and @ Kent State
Likely losses: @ Cincinnati, @ Minnesota, @ Army and @ Ball State
Final consensus: 7-5