As a younger brother to Ohio State, Cincinnati is already at a disadvantage in talent and coaching, and last Saturday, it showed. The Bearcats went up to Columbus and got throttled, losing 42-0 to a bigger and faster team that Cincinnati never showed resilience to. In a game that most Bearcats fans thought was a win-win situation, Luke Fickell showed that it was still possible to take a step back in the rebuilding process.
To start, the offense looked atrocious. The issues started up front as the inexperience truly showed against an experienced Ohio State defensive front that features arguably the number one defensive end in the country. Chase Young tore apart Lorenz Metz, continuously getting pressure on Ridder and making the sophomore quarterback have to scramble and make plays on the run, a situation no offensive coordinator wants to put his star player in.
Metz wasn’t the only player on the O-Line that struggled as the whole offensive front couldn’t set up the run game for Michael Warren II. The Bearcats couldn’t find a way to get the running game going until the final offensive drive when Ohio State put in their backups as Cincinnati only had 107 rushing yards in the game. As an underdog in a big-time game, the Bearcats needed to show a balanced offensive attack, but with zero rushing threat throughout the game, Desmond Ridder was forced to make plays through the air.
A breakout star to begin the year is sophomore wide receiver Alec Pierce. The former 3-star recruit from Illinois recorded 4 receptions for 99 yards, including a 46 yard catch on against the Buckeyes to put the Bearcats into scoring position. It was, however, another disappointing game for the rest of the receivers as they only totaled 5 receptions for 21 yards, excluding Pierce’s performance. In an already disappointing season for the senior Rashad Medaris, he was virtually non-existent vs. Ohio State on Saturday. With deep play ability, Medaris needs to find more open space down field for Ridder to establish the deep ball, something that was virtually nonexistent last season.
As the offense struggled to stay on the field throughout the day, the defense was tasked to try to hold a potent Buckeyes offense for 4 quarters, a strategy that usually never pays off, especially on the road. The Bearcats looked tired and lethargic, especially towards the end of the 2nd quarter when Ohio State broke away to a 28-0 lead. The defensive line looked beat as they rarely got pressure on OSU quarterback Justin Fields, and while he made some good plays, any quarterback at the collegiate level will find a way to pick apart defenses when he’s given time to stand in the pocket.
On a more serious topic, safety Kyriq McDonald collapsed and convulsed on the field during a play in the second quarter. In a very scary situation, McDonald appeared to not move as he was lying on his back for quite some time, but was able to get up on his feet and was carted off by the UC medical staff. He was later released from the hospital that night and his mother informed reporters that he has had a history of seizures in his past, even though it is yet to be determined if that is what he suffered on Saturday. In a game that was never close, the most nervous Cincinnati fans got was watching McDonald on the ground, and, thankfully, he seems to be doing okay now, which offers a big sigh of relief to not only Bearcats fans, but to the family of Kyriq.
While the game was never close, the Bearcats can take this as a stepping stone. Blowout losses gives the losing team two options: give up and throw away the season or come back and prove the critics wrong. Coach Fickell has a great opportunity coming up this Saturday with a home game against in-State rival Miami to turn this season around and get the offense back on track. In what was a major letdown against Ohio State, the Bearcats now have the opportunity to turn the tide for the rest of the year.