BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA — A 14 point comeback, two-score performance by Jerome Ford and a second half defensive stiffening paved the way for Cincinnati’s third victory of the 2021 college football season.
The Cincinnati Bearcats continued their out of conference slate with a power five showdown against the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday. Indiana — a team that dropped only one regular season game in the Big Ten last year — entered the day at 1-1 and a chance to play spoiler on the Bearcats playoff hopes.
Michael Penix Jr. and co opened up the scoring with two first half touchdowns against the sturdy Bearcat defense. Penix Jr., who ended up going 17-40 for 224 yards, two TDs and three INT’s on the day, recorded those two (lonesome) first half scores to Peyton Hendershot and Stephen Carr.
His defense held the house down for nearly the entire half, keeping the Bearcats offense at a whopping zero points through the first 25+ minutes from scrimmage. But Cincinnati — being led by the versatile Desmond Ridder —showed no signs of worries in the waning moments of act I. The offense answered the opposition’s “overrated” chants with a quick ten on the board, first striking back through a six-yard TD from star running back Jerome Ford.
Ford, entering Saturday as the team’s leading rusher, totaled 20 carries for 66 yards and two scores on a day. His opening sense of hope for UC was followed up by a Penix Jr. interception and quick Cole Smith 32-yarder for the Bearcats.
The second half saw Cinci take its first lead thanks to Ford’s second cash in. That made way for a 17-14 Bearcat advantage. IU did answer back, but a late-quarter 99-yard Tre Tucker kickoff return put the visitor back in the driver’s seat.
Desmond Ridder finally got himself on the board during the fourth quarter. The top-notch Bearcat signal caller recorded the final two scores for either team with a 19-yard pass to Alec Pierce and a game-sealing seven-yard rushing TD. He ended up throwing for 210 yards, a single TD and interception on 36 passes.
“This is huge,” Ridder said in response to the win. “I feel like it’s weight lifted off our shoulders. People talk about checklists and what you’ve got to do and that’s a check mark off the list.”
In an effort to rest up for the big showdown ahead, Ridder and his teammates are set to have a bye week for week four of the college football season. UC will take on Notre Dame two weeks from now — Saturday, October 2nd — in a decisive road game at South Bend. The Fighting Irish currently stand at 3-0, but their triumphs have been far from impressive. All three of the team’s matchups entailed struggle-some victories against less than stellar opponents (Florida State, Toledo and Purdue)
Expect for ND to enter as a top ten team regardless IF they manage to take down Wisconsin next Saturday. Same goes for UC in terms of rankings.