2021 Bearcats Opponent Preview: Murray State

It’s a great week to be a Bearcat fan! I’ll break down some BIG news, a blowout against the Redhawks and preview the Racers.

Big News

The Ink Is Dry BABY!

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Bearcats molly-whopped our friends from Oxford by a score of 49-14 in a game that was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. The Cats set the pace for the game on the second play of the game, when half of the crowd missed an 81 yard bomb from Ridder to speedster Tyler Scott, because of the transition to digital tickets. Ridder finished the game going 20-25 with 295 yards passing, 4 touchdowns and an interception and also added 31 yards on the ground and a 25 yard TD. Ridder threw TDs to TEs Leonard Taylor and Josh Whyle, RB Ryan Montgomery, and WR Tyler Scott. 11 total Bearcats totaled receptions against the Redhawks and Miami didn’t score until 3:20 was left in the game on a drive against the Bearcats reserves. They followed that up with an interception returned for a Touchdown off a tipped pass that Jordan Jones should have come down with from Freshman Evan Prater. Prater saved face, cartwheeling into the endzone for a score with 0:23 left, that made the SportsCenter Top 10 the next morning.

Miami did a good job covering up an injury for QB Brett Gabbert didn’t start QB Brett Gabbert since Chuck Martin doesn’t care about this game, as they ran out Cov Cath graduate AJ Mayer who looked terrible against the Blackcats defense, going 9/28 for 109 yards and finishing with a 14.0 Quarterback Rating. The Blackcats ran their base defense all game, rushed 3 defenders almost exclusively and ultimately only ended up with one sack on the day with a vanilla defense that overwhelmed the Redhawks.

The Bearcats ran a very vanilla look on offense and defense that should keep some wrinkles for the games against Indiana and Notre Dame, but used the second play of the game to show off Ridder’s arm talent. Ridder put himself in a strong position as he finished 29th in the NCAA in total passing yards despite throwing only 25 passes which was the 8th fewest of all starting QBs. The Bearcats didn’t need to get cute to beat Miami and left just enough tape to keep Indiana and Notre Dame guessing later this season. The Victory Bell stays in Clifton and we’ve evened the series to a tie for the first time since 1953 (thanks for the stat Spencer Tuckerman).

We’re Off to the Racers

Murray State is coming off a strange Spring FCS season that played February to April due to COVID-19. The Racers started the season off 5-0, getting ranked as high as #14 before dropping a game on the road against Austin Peay and then losing at home to Playoff-bound Jacksonville State. The Racers come into Nippert Stadium under 2nd season head coach Dean Hood who leads his team into Nippert 1-0 after beating the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devil’s who have one of the greatest college football logos I’ve never seen.

Murray State features an offense with a lot of option style rushes and a mobile QB with a decent arm, like a poor man’s Desmond Ridder. Their QB Preston Rice was 9/15 for 116 yards passing and 1 INT along with 11 rushes for 81 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. Running back Cortez Jones was the leading rusher with 10 rushes for 107 yards and 1 TD, with one of them being a 69 yard rush he ran out of gas on and tripped himself up on his way to the endzone. Overall, Murray State rushed for 307 yards on the day on 48 rushes and totaled 5 TDs.

Murray’s defense was relentless, allowing 63 yards passing and 99 yards rushing on 33 carries. The Racers defense was in the backfield more often than not against an inferior opponent in Mississippi Valley State, totaling 2 sacks, and completely shutting down the Delta Devil’s rushing game.

It should be another blowout in Nippert Stadium on Saturday and I expect the back-ups to get more playing time than this past week against Miami. Luke Fickell had said in his post-game show that the intention was to give Ridder one last series in the 3rd Quarter, but problems on the field led him to stay in longer than planned. I expect similar treatment in this game, allowing Ridder to come out of half time and execute their game plan, before giving way to Evan Prater and the second team offense. UC’s offensive line held up pretty well against a strong Miami defensive front, but took a dip when Center Jake Renfro left the game. He’s expected to be back this week against Murray. Overall, I think the Bearcats struggle early with Murray’s rushing attack, but ultimately make the right adjustments as their base 3-3-5 defense is built to better stop the passing game. Murray’s defense is no match for our offense, they are going to struggle to stop our stockpile of weapons and Ridder.

Bearcats – 63
Racers – 14

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