Cincinnati vs Ohio State :: For the 17th time, the Cincinnati Bearcats will play the Ohio State Buckeyes in football. What makes this contest so intriguing is the return of longtime Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell to Ohio Stadium as the head coach for the Bearcats.
== MATCH INFO ==
Event : College Football 2019
Date : Saturday, September 7, 2019
Time : Live
Fickell is well-respected by the Ohio State community. A former three-time heavyweight state champion wrestler who featured a 106-0 record at Columbus DeSales High School, Fickell started 50 consecutive games for the Buckeyes at nose guard from 1993-96. Fickell began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under former head coach John Cooper in 1999, then served two years as an assistant at Akron from 2000-01.
Returning to Columbus in 2002, Fickell began his climb in the college ranks under former head coaches Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, serving as the special teams coordinator (2002-03), then progressing to linebackers coach (2004-10; ’12-16). Fickell also served as the co-defensive coordinator from 2005-16, with the notable exception of the ’11 season. It was during that season that Fickell served as Ohio State’s interim head coach, after the firing of Tressel, and it was Fickell’s commitment to his alma mater during the trying 6-7 season that earned him the respect of Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith. On Fickell, Smith has stated, “He’s the embodiment of everything that we want to develop in our student-athletes across every single sport… High values, good character, driven, has a purpose in life, family man, father, husband. If I could take every athlete and say ‘OK, I want to make you Luke,’ we’d be fine.”
Fickell has methodically built Cincinnati into a very competitive team, progressing from 4-8 in 2017 to an impressive 11-2 record last season that featured a 35-31 win over Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl. Coming off a 24-14 season-opening home win over UCLA that was not nearly as close as the score indicates, Fickell has his sights set on defeating Ohio State in Columbus for the first time in the series; the last Cincinnati win over Ohio State (24-0) was in 1897, and in Cincinnati. On playing Ohio State, Fickell stated, “It’s like playing against your brother… That’s a big-time deal. I’m a competitor, so there’s no one I’d want to beat up more than my brother. I mean, holy cow, there’s no one I’d want to play harder against.”
Also at 1-0, Ohio State is coming off a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic that was initially dominant, yet had its share of lulls and sputtering throughout much of the game. After the first quarter, Ohio State led Florida Atlantic 28-0, and it appeared that the rout was on. For the remaining three quarters, Florida Atlantic actually outscored Ohio State 21-17, which led first-year head coach Ryan Day to make these remarks after the game: “Looking at it here, it was 28-0 and there was 6:50 to go in the first quarter… I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a game like that. It was kind of strange that we came out to such a quick lead and maybe we took a deep breath there, I’m not sure. But we can’t let that happen. We’ve got to keep the pedal to the metal and keep going.”
Cincinnati at Ohio State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 7 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -17
When Cincinnati Has the Ball
The Bearcats are led by sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder, who is coming off a very efficient performance against UCLA. Ridder completed 18-of-26 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Cincinnati often rolled Ridder out on bootlegs, which allowed him to add 34 rushing yards on nine carries. Look for Ohio State’s linebackers to spy on Ridder, in an effort to negate Ridder’s effectiveness in keeping drives alive. Michael Warren II, the 2016 Ohio Mr. Football award winner (more on that below), led the Bearcats’ rushing attack with 26 carries for 92 yards (3.5 yards per carry), while also adding three receptions for 27 yards. After watching Cincinnati rush for 175 yards against UCLA, Ohio State will probably crowd the line to try and get the Bearcats into long-yardage situations for down and distance. The Buckeyes were quite effective against the run versus Florida Atlantic, allowing only 22 yards on the ground. Cincinnati will be another matter, and a good test for how improved Ohio State is on the defensive side of the ball.
When Ohio State Has the Ball
Quarterback Justin Fields could not have scripted a better beginning for his Ohio State debut. Completing 18-of-25 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns, Fields also added a 51-yard touchdown run about two minutes into the game against Florida Atlantic.