First there must be a hats off to the crowd that showed up for this game as the student section again has laid claim to this team and showed up in great numbers looking to cheer on the Bearcats. Their presence makes Nippert Stadium one of the greatest places to watch or cover a college football game.
But not to be left out is the crowd as a whole. Much is expected of Brian Kelly's team and fans are looking for a winner to cheer. The Bearcats look to earn their support and Saturday night took another step towards doing so.
While Miami is a non-conference game it's a game that must be won from now on as being a member of the Big East Conference places a bulls-eye on the C-Paw jerseys and a loss to Miami is now just not acceptable.
Brian Kelly said it best in his opening statement to the media after the game that the Miami win was a great victory. When your going into a game with a backup quarterback making his first start and it's a rivalry game you never know what you're going to get. The performance of Tony Pike showed the Bearcats may still have a few growing pains this fall but Pike has the chance to be the big story this fall in the team's success.
Miami is not a bad team as they've played a tough schedule in two of their first three games and have several players good enough to play at UC. So this is a quality win, just ask Indiana the sting their feeling after Saturday's loss to Ball State.
But as great of a victory this was it also showed their team has not even come close to the potential they hold. The defense is not to the level it needs to be for this team to have great success in the coming weeks. In talking with a trusted source we both came to the conclusion this team misses number 13 at the safety position so much more than anyone thought it would.
While both John Goebel and Jacob Ramsey had good nights running the ball I often wonder what would happen if one would get the majority of the carries. I've always been a big fan of Ramsey and feel he's got the tools to be a big time back but you can't look away from the way Goebel runs the ball. The Michigan native runs with a runners lean that you can't just teach. He hits the holes hard and is willing to punish his body. What type of numbers would either of them post if they carried the ball 25 times a game instead of 10-12?
The offensive line showed improvement but I don't feel they are there just yet. This type of performance must continue in the coming weeks as the Bearcats get ready for Big East play. By the time they play Rutgers for Homecoming this line needs to be on all cylinders helping protect the quarterback even more and opening bigger and better holes for the backs to gain more than the 152 yards they picked up on Saturday night.
It was also good to see Pike go to his tight-ends as both Ben Guidugli and Kazeem Alli got into the action with Guidugli scoring his second career touchdown.
Dominick Goodman continues to assault the Bearcats career receiving records. After Saturday nights game Goody now is second in receptions with 142, 7-th in receiving yards with 1,782 and second in touchdowns scored with 18. With ten games to go look for Goodman to keep knocking on the doors of several records as he's 62 catches away from catching LaDaris Vann who has 204 total career receptions and needs 3 more touchdowns to catch Jim O'Brien. While he'll continue to climb the ladder Goodman would need to have 701 yards receiving the rest of the season to pass Vann who has 2,483 career yards.
Mike Mickens is another Bearcat working on setting a few records on the defensive side of the ball. The former Huber Heights Wayne products interception for a touchdown tied him with Shawn Ferguson with 3 for their careers. It also moves Mickens into a tie for third with Ed Bolis with 11 career interceptions. Before the season is over Mickens or his running mate DeAngelo Smith could hold the record for career interceptions as the current holders Blue Adams and Jocelyn Borgella both have 12.
Tony is the fourth quarterback to get his first start under Brian Kelly since coming to Cincinnati. How did Pike stack up to Nick Davila, Ben Mauk and Dustin Grutza?
Davila got his start in a bowl game and took the team to victory throwing for 214 yards and 2 scores hitting on 54% of his passes. Mauk passed for 244 yards and 1 score while hitting 66% of his passes and Grutza passed for 290 yards, 2 scores and 71% of his passes were successful. Davila and Mauk each threw interceptions while Grutza and Pike were error free. Tony Pike went 20-24 with 3 touchdowns hitting on 83% of his passes.
The Victory Bell is again secure and safe for the third straight year. UC has now held the bell for four of the past five years and moves another game closer to closing the gap in the overall series record that now stands with the Redhawks leading 59-47-7.
Looking Bact At The Battle For The Bell
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