As the Buckeyes come off their first bye week of the 2014 season and prepare for B1G football play, they’ll have one more task standing in front of them in the form of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. This will be the first meeting between the two Ohio schools since 2006 when the Bucks came away victorious 37-7.
The Bearcats are coming off the first year for head coach Tommy Tuberville and a very successful one it was. UC was 9-4 (6-2 in the AAC) and lost to North Carolina 39-17 in the 2013 Belk Bowl. The 2013 season also included wins over B1G members Purdue, and soon to be member Rutgers. They also beat something called Northwestern, but it’s not the one you’re thinking of.
The biggest and best news for the Bearcats this offseason was getting transfer QB Gunner Kiel. The former big time recruit made national news over his recruiting process by committing to Indiana, then LSU, THEN finally to Notre Dame. When Kiel found himself behind several other qb’s in South Bend including returning starter from 2012, Everett Golson, he decided to transfer to Cincinnati. Kiel sat out the 2013 season and has 3 years of eligibility remaining. Kiel impressed all during the Bearcats spring game and seems to have the lead for the starting job heading into fall camp.
The Bearcats are looking forward to what could be a special season if their quarterback situation pans out and their defense will be more consistent with a new coordinator. Kiel has a big arm, is very accurate, can throw a nice deep ball and has good mobility. The one area he must improve on is throwing the football on the run. The one challenger he will have this fall is from junior college transfer Jarred Evans. Former starter Munchie Legaux will return for his fifth year after suffering a severe knee injury last September.
Whoever the quarterback will be Cincinnati will return its top three rushers including Hosey Williams, Ralph David Abernathy and Tion Green. The wide receiver position is in good shape with Senior Shaq Washington and Chris Moore. Washington is an excellent possession receiver who had 78 catches last year. The offensive line returns three starters including tackle Eric Lefeld (6-6 309).
Cincinnati’s defense ranked ninth in the country in total defense and yet still fired their defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. Coach Tuberville hired Hank Hughes to run the defense, and they will continue to run the 4-3 defense that was implemented last year.
The strength of the defense may be the linebackers with Nick Temple and Jeff Luc returning. Temple had 80 tackles in 2013, Luc finished with 43. The defensive line will feature Silverberry Mouhon who finished with 9 ½ sacks. Safety Zach Edwards ended the season with 73 tackles and cornerback Howard Wilder also finished with 35. Northwestern transfer Eric Wilson will add depth to the linebacker position allowing Luc to go from inside linebacker to middle linebacker.
The Buckeyes could’ve made it easier on themselves before launching into B1G play but they instead scheduled a quality opponent. Kiel will be the best qb they will face in the first four games and will actually be one of the best they may face all season, aside from Christian Hackenburg and Connor Cook. This game will also mark the second night game for the Bucks in the 2014 season. Though it won’t be an easy game, I see the Bucks prevailing in a tough battle, 45-24.
Stop back next Thursday as we’ll jump into B1G play preview with the Maryland Terrapins preview.