There’s a buzz surrounding this one as Indiana welcomes its highest-ranked non-conference foe at Memorial Stadium since taking on USC in 1981.
The No.8 Cincinnati Bearcats will be joining the Big 12 conference at some point in the relatively near future, and they already have the look of a Power Five program under the guidance of head coach Luke Fickell. UC is a legitimate threat to lead the table and end up in the college football playoffs.
Indiana, on the other hand, is looking for a bit of a reset after a season-opening hiccup in Iowa City. A victory over a top ten opponent in front of the national television audience would go a long way to put IU back into the national conversation.
It’s the Hoosiers and the Bearcats outside a sold-out Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.
N ° 8 CINCINNATI (2-0) to INDIANA (1-1)
- To start up: South East
- Site: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana (52,656)
- Television: ESPN, Dave Pasch (pbp), Dusty Dvoracek (analyst) & Tom Luginbill (sideline)
- Flux: Watch ESPN
- Radio: IU Football Radio Network
- Odds: Cincinnati is a 3.5 point favorite
- Weather at kick-off: 82 degrees, partly cloudy, wind 5 mph, 4% chance of precipitation.
- Series: The Hoosiers and Bearcats will meet for the first time since September 23, 2000, a 42-6 IU victory at Bloomington. Indiana leads the series all-time 9-3-2, including a 6-2-1 home advantage.
- The coaches:
Tom allen is 25-23 (.521) in his fifth season as Indiana’s football head coach. His 24 wins in his first four years are the most important for an IU head coach during this period.
Luc Fickell is 37-14 (.726) in his fifth season as Cincinnati head coach. The Bearcats are 33-6 (0.846) since the start of 2018. Fickell was 6-7 as the Ohio State head coach in 2011.
Indiana will be wearing 80s and 90s comeback uniforms against Cincinnati.
To order an Adidas jersey, GO HERE.
– Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) September 17, 2021
TALE OF THE BAND
THE COMPLETE SLATE BIG TEN WEEK 3
|Coral Gables, Florida||Television: ABC Radio: Spartan Media Network Video|
|Normand, okay||TV: FOX Statistics Radio: Huskers Radio Network Video|
|Bloomington, Ind.||Television: ESPN Statistics Radio: IU radio network; Sirius 83, XM 83, SXM App 83|
|Ann Arbor, Michigan.||Television: Big Ten Network Statistics Video|
|Boulder, CO||Television: Pac-12 network Statistics Radio: KFAN 100.3 FM Video|
|South Bend, Ind.||Television: NBC Statistics Radio: Purdue Sports Network Video|
|Iowa City, IA|
|Piscataway, New Jersey||Television: Big Ten Network Statistics Radio: WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, XM 196, Sirius 106, Scarlet Knights app Video|
|Durham, North Carolina||Television: ACC Network Radio: Radio WGN AM-720|
|University Park, Pennsylvania.||Video|
WHEN CINCINNATI AT FOOTBALL
Cincinnati are hard to stop offensively as they can beat you both on the ground and in the air. Jerome Ford is a former Alabama fast running back who has 234 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games averaging 7.8 yards per carry.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder is quite simply a winner. He’s 33-5 since taking over in 2018. Ridder can beat you in the air or with his feet. He had 7,443 yards and rushed for 1,841 during his time at UC. Last season, Ridder completed 66.2% of his passes, and he stands at 72.3% so far in 2021.
Ridder likes to sow the ball. Six Bearcats represent the team’s seven touchdowns, led by Tyler Scott’s two. He and Jadon Thompson also have a team-high with five of 13 catches with a reception this season. Scott is the team’s top receiver with 155 yards. Collectively, the tight ends have caught six passes for 68 yards and four of Ridder’s six touchdowns this season.
The key to this one is probably Indiana’s ability to control the line of scrimmage to slow the run down and force Ridder to make mistakes in the air. He threw 21 interceptions during his career. IU is still looking for its first INT in 2021.
One thing to watch out for is how the Cincinnati offense handles crowd noise. The Bearcats haven’t played a road game with fans since 2019, and even then, they haven’t regularly encountered as big a crowd as you’d expect in Indiana. Head coach Luke Fickell knows that will play a role.
“Offensively, we haven’t been in this situation for a long time,” Fickell said this week. “We do checks and things like that, even cadence. I’m not sure exactly how bad (crowd noise) could be, but we do know it’s going to have an effect. This is something we haven’t seen for a year and a half. These are things you should always prepare for.
WHEN INDIANA AT FOOTBALL
Indiana is trying to get on the offensive end of the ball, but they will face a tough task on Saturday.
Cincinnati brings a veteran defense to Bloomington. According to their depth chart, the eleven rookies are upper class students, with four graduates, four seniors and three juniors. The Bearcats defense allowed just 325 total yards per game and ranked 13th nationally in total defense in 2020.
Linebacker Trio – Deshawn Pace, Joel Dublanko and Darrian Beavers lead the team in tackles.
The Bearcats are the elite cornerback led by All-American Ahmad Gardner. His clash with Ty Fryfogle should be fun to watch.
Defensive end Myjai Sanders, who led the team in sacks and tackles for loss last year, is an NFL prospect who has returned for his final year. Defensive backs Coby Bryant and Gardner combined seven interceptions last season.
“When you think about the defensive position and the cornerback position, these are two positions that you place a lot of value on because they affect your quarterback,” Tom Allen said this week. “They make it difficult.”
Cincinnati did not allow more than 13 points in a five-game streak in 2020, and they allowed just 10.5 points per game in two competitions in 2021, albeit against lower competition (Miami from the Ohio and Murray State).
Indiana’s offense failed to inspire confidence through two games. Can quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. get back into shape like he’s done in each of the past two years after coming back from injury? If he does and offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan comes up with a more dynamic pattern, Indiana can win this game.
This one could go either way, with a big game from defense or special teams probably making the difference.
The intuition, until Penix shows us more, is to go with the Bearcats.
TDH: Cincinnati 27 Indiana 23
Athlon Sports: Indiana 24 Cincinnati 20
College Football News: Cincinnati 34 Indiana 24
Cincinnati Applicant: Cincinnati 31 Indiana 17
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