2023 Bearcats Game 3 Preview: For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Bearcats took the trip across I-70 last week and sang Sweet Caroline the whole way home after defeating the Panthers at the Formerly Known Hines Field 27-21. This weekend, the Bearcats look to extend their winning streak against the Redhawks to 17 straight at Nippert Stadium in a Nipp at Nite match-up. Will this be the year the Redhawks end the streak? We’ll find out under the lights of Nipp at Nite (7:00 PM ESPN+)

Steal City

The Bearcats came out hot in the first half against the Panthers, surging to a 20-7 lead at halftime. The Blackcats defense was the star of the first half forcing the Panthers to punt 3 times, forcing a missed field goal, and only allowing one TD on a series that was extended by a roughing the passer penalty on a ball that should have probably been intercepted. The defense had some struggles in the 4th quarter, getting multiple pass interference penalties and letting the game get within 6 points. However, the Blackcats held on for the victory and the Bearcats head back to Nippert 2-0 and gathering votes in the Top 25.

The defensive line wreaked havoc on QB Phil Jurkovec and the rushing game all night long. The defense accumulated 5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss and also managed to hold the Panthers to 83 yards rushing on the game. The game plan was to apply pressure and force Jurkovec to beat them, it nearly busted, but held throughout the game. At the end of the day, Jurkovec ended up 10-32 for 179 yards and 3 TDs. Our defense was very susceptible to big plays, and his 17.9 yard/ completion average shows that. Busted coverage and play extended pass interference calls will need to be cleaned up in Big 12 play, or the 2-0 start is going to wash away into an offseason of disappointment.

The offense came out blazing in the first half, but a strong Pittsburgh defense adjusted at the half. Emory Jones plummeted back to Earth going 18/25 for 125 yards, 2 TDs and 1 int. The Panther defense was forcing Emory out of the pocket all game and the game plan would have worked if it wasn’t for the efforts of Hometown Hero Corey Kiner. Kiner finished the day with 20 rushes for 153 yards and a TD and was extremely close to a second on his 68 yard rush in the first quarter. WR Braden Smith had a big day as well, completing a pass on an end around as well as hauling in the best Bearcats reception since Pike to Binns. His day was the second best for any running back against Pitt since 2020. A tip of the hat to kicker Carter Brown for drilling a 47 yard field goal and going a perfect 5/5 on kicks on the day.

Paint it Black

This weekend, the Miami Redhawks make the short trek down US27 to face the Bearcats in the 127th Battle for the Victory Bell. The Bearcats are victors in the last 16 and finally took the series lead 60-59-7 last season. This year the Bearcats try for another series lead, hoping to earn the lead in games at Nippert Stadium. The series is tied up 39-39-7 at Nippert (shoutout to GoBeercats for the stat). Last season the BFtVB was played at Paycor Stadium, a game in which the Redhawks raced out to a 17-7 lead. However, the Bearcats would score 31 straight to take the series lead for the Cats. Possible Chicago Roommates, Ben Bryant and Tyler Scott, connected 8 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. The Blackcats defense would hold Miami to under 200 total yards in the victory.

Battle for the Bell

Will this be the year that Miami takes this game seriously? Allegedly the Redhawks have sat starters in the past few years, as well as not even game planning for the Bearcats. The Redhawks will walk into Nippert Stadium 1-1, with a loss in the Confusion Bowl against the U and a win on the road against UMass. Disaster struck in the game against UMass, a game that kicked off at 3:30 PM and ended at 12:30am due to two lightning delays. The late finish wreaked havoc on the Redhawks plans, not arriving back to Miami until 6:30 am on Sunday morning.

Redhawk WR Greg Larvadain was the star of the show against UMass accounting for 273 of QB Brett Gabbert’s 302 passing yards. He also accounted for 3/4 TDs and 8/12 receptions. Larvadain also acocunted for 80 yards in the Confusion Bowl as well, he’s clearly Gabbert’s number 1 target and slowing him down has to be priority number 1 against Miami. Gabbert has been pedestrian so far this season, with a 56% completion percentage, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The game plan here is going to be similar to last week’s. Apply pressure to Gabbert and he’ll make mistakes. The key is making sure to cover Larvadain who had a 99 yard TD reception against UMass. The next leading receiver for Miami has 38 receiving yards to Larvadain’s 353. Miami’s rushing game doesn’t strike much fear, they have 195 yards combined over the two games with leading rusher Rashad Amos having 115 of those against UMass. The Blackcats defense should easily be able to stymie the rushing attack of the Redhawks.

Defensively, Miami has struggled, allowing 33 points per game so far this season. They also allow 399.5 yards per game, which is good for #100 in the NCAA. They are giving up 156 rushing yards per game thus far this season, good for #98 overall. I think the offensive gameplan is similar to last week as well. Run the ball a lot and when they crowd the box, throw over their heads. I look for Kiner to have another big game, but get a break in the second half for Myles Montgomery to get some run.

I think Miami tends to play these games pretty tough, but they lack the talent to keep it close. Having an offensive minded head coach keeps the emotions at bay. Bearcats roll easy in this one and look forward to their match-up on Big Noon Saturday against the Sooners.

Bearcats – 35
J Crew U – 10

Juncta Juvant

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