For the past 11 seasons, the famed Victory Bell has been in the possession of the University of Cincinnati (1-1). This Saturday, at home, Miami football (1-1) will get the opportunity to end Cincinnati’s reign.
The in-state rivalry has roots dating back to 1888 — the first time these teams played each other — and that maiden meeting resulted in a 0-0 tie. In the series, the RedHawks hold a slight 59-55 advantage.
Last season, in a matchup that has been tightly contested since 2013, the ‘Hawks fell short away from Yager Stadium by a score of 27-20. MU head coach Chuck Martin hasn’t said that he expects victory, but notes almost all areas of play need to perform.
“We’re going to have to play our game. We’re going to have to eliminate our mistakes on offense. We’re going to have to win the big-play battle,” Martin said. “We’re going to have to win the time of possession battle. And we’re going to have play solid on special teams.”
Perhaps underrated nationally, this rivalry still holds importance in Ohio, especially in the greater Cincinnati area. A win over UC tops the wish list for most Red and White fans.
“To all of our faithful alumni and fans, it would mean a ton,” Martin said. “It’s probably the number one thing I get throughout the year.”
A distinction that could be an edge is the personnel overhaul UC underwent this offseason. Not only is there an influx of fresh coordinators, but each of these new additions are some of the best in the business.
“They got a new coaching staff. They’re a very talented coaching staff,” Martin said. “You go read the bios of their staff — they’ve got seasoned, veteran guys that have been around the block 30 times.”
Dealing with a slew of talented new coaches paired with the Bearcats’ improved, across-the-field athleticism, could cause headaches for Miami.
“They’re a crazy athletic team at all positions. They got weapons on offense, they got weapons on defense,” Martin said.
On December 10, 2016, Cincinnati named former co-defensive coordinator of The Ohio State University Luke Fickell their new head coach. While only two games into his job, Fickell has begun to identify some of his offensive and defensive weapons.
On offense, the Bearcats will look to running back Mike Boone to carry the load and aid the ground game. The senior has rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 31 attempts.
With a new stable of defensive-minded coordinators — including a head coach that is defensively-adept — one can expect the Bearcats defense to be a nuisance.
When looking for individual impact, look for linebacker Perry Young. So far, the sophomore has recorded 21 tackles, three for a loss, two pass-breakups and has forced one fumble.
For the Red and White, keep an eye out for wide receiver James Gardner on offense. After two games, the junior has amassed 223 yards and two scores, while only catching 13 passes. A deep-ball threat, Gardner’s longest touchdown of the season is 42 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the defense is ready to make a national statement starting with Cincinnati.
“We have this mindset — The Mob — and we just try to hunt, be disciplined,” junior defensive back Deondre Daniels said. “I feel like we can get higher than Top-25 this year. We should be in the Top-10, Top-15 this year.”
Senior safety Tony Reid has collected 12 tackles, picked off one pass, and recovered a fumble – look to him to make an impact on defense.
Kickoff for the 122nd meeting of Miami vs. Cincinnati is set for 8:00 p.m. on Saturday at Yager Stadium. The action will be broadcast on FOX19 and streamed live on ESPN3.