The Bearcats survived a scare in the Annapolis, but ultimately prevailed and moved from #3 to #2 in the Coach’s Poll. They head to New Orleans to face the Green Wave of Tulane University. Can the Bearcats get their offense back on track against a bad defense?
A Scare in the Annapolis
— Justin H (@Captain_Cincy) October 23, 2021
The Bearcats faced a Naval Academy team that had nothing to lose and they played like it. Coming into the game 1-5 and with the #2 team in the country on the opposing side line, Navy threw a lot of new looks and some trickery to try to end the Bearcats undefeated season and knock them out of the CFP. Ultimately, Navy tried 3 on-side kicks and were successful on one late in the 4th Quarter, but it still wasn’t enough. They held the ball for almost 40 minutes and the Bearcats only had 9 possessions, 6 less than their season average. We only had 271 yards of offense to the Midshipmen’s 308. Navy played a great game of keep away against a Bearcats offense that just couldn’t get going all day.
It was the return of Josh Whyle who got the Bearcats on the board first with a touchdown strike from Desmond Ridder. Whyle ended up with both of Ridder’s passing touchdowns on the day and is starting to look like the guy who led the team in touchdowns last season. Jerome Ford had 90 yards on the ground on 15 carries, but garnered most of those on a 43 yard run. He paired that rushing performance with a touchdown.
Navy’s Triple Offense attack ran for 192 yards on the Blackcats defense, but at a pultry 2.9 yards a carry that felt like stubbing your toe 67 times. The Navy QB Tai Lavatai had 21 rushes for 22 yards and 2 touchdowns. The battle in the trenches was tough and Navy did something they rarely do, throw the ball. They ended up 11/15 passing for 116 yards. It was the last pass of the game that proved costly as Lavatai tossed a ball to nickelback Arquon Bush, who had barely played during the game when he put the game on ice and had us making our way to the buses with victory on the mind.
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) October 25, 2021
Our special teams performance is surprisingly what made the difference in the game. With beleaguered Kicker Cole Smith out with a groin injury, the Bearcats leaned on kick off specialist Alex Bales and freshman Christian Lowery, who banged in an ugly 52 yarder and a 32 yarder respectively who kept the game out of reach for the Midshipmen. Freshman playmaker Deshawn Pace blocked a field goal attempt at the end of the first half and nearly found pay dirt, getting knocked out of bounds with one second on the clock (allegedly) which led to Bales 52 yarder at the end of the first half.
The score is what ultimately what matters as the Bearcats packed their bags and headed back to Cincinnati with a 27-20 victory which shook Bearcats Nation to the core. Debates surged throughout Twitter and the Bearcat Journal forums, how far will we fall after this lackluster victory? It didn’t end up being a factor as we’ve moved up to #2 in the Coach’s Poll with the first College Football Playoff rankings looming next week.
A Nightmare on Bourbon Street
The Bearcats make their way to New Orleans next, to face off against another disappointing team in the American in the Tulane Green Wave. After giving Oklahoma a scare earlier this season, the Green Wave have gone 1-6 so far, with their only win against FCS team Morgan State. The Green Wave have had a tough schedule so far, playing 3 ranked teams, but haven’t looked good against any of them. Overall, Tulane holds an 11-6 edge all time against the Bearcats, but the SEC founding member (oops) has dropped the last 3, all since joining the American Conference. The last match-up was a 37-21 victory for the Bearcats at Nippert Stadium.
That 2018 match-up, as expected, was dominated by Michael Warren II, who had an 81 yard touchdown rush early in the 2nd quarter and the Bearcats never looked back. Current Utah Ute Tavion Thomas added a rushing touchdown as well, and Ridder threw 2 TD passes to Khalil Lewis and rushed one in himself. The Bearcats outrushed the Green Wave’s offense, 272 yards rushing to 266 total yards for Tulane in that game.
🎥 Highlights from our 37-21 win over Tulane on homecoming. 🎥 pic.twitter.com/wD4KS4I8lO
— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) October 6, 2018
This year Tulane comes in with big questions at QB as their starter Michael Pratt took a vicious hit against SMU and is in concussion protocol. Tulane is light at QB with a few injuries in their QB room, so they’ll likely be turning to one of their true freshman if Pratt isn’t cleared to play. Kai Horton filled in for Pratt in the last game, so he seems like the most likely candidate, he’s got 9 passing yards and 1 interception on the season, so it could be a feeding frenzy for one of the best Secondaries in the NCAA. Tulane won’t get much help from their rushing attack as they rank 83rd in the NCAA with 148 yards on the ground/game and their leading rusher Cameron Carrol only has 350 yards on the season along with 2 TDs.
Defensively, the Green Wave are absolutely atrocious allowing 494 yards per game of offense which is 128th out of 130 in the country. They match that mark in scoring defense as well allowing 42 points per game. They also don’t force many mistakes, with 7 total on the season, good for about 1 per game.
Unfortunately, for a team that was hyped up at the beginning of the year and seemed to be headed the right direction, they’ve had a terrible year so far and I don’t expect it to get better this week. Cincinnati needs to blow out Tulane in case it comes down to Cincinnati and Oklahoma at the end of the season and they’ll look at their common opponent in consideration. This is a good game for Desmond Ridder to get his confidence back after having a couple lackluster games the past couple of weeks and Ford can continue to chase Bearcats history. Tulane will give us all they’ve got at home, but it’s going to be a nightmare for Green Wave fans on Halloween weekend.
Bearcats – 59
Green Wave – 7