On my previous post, I listed my top 10 favorite Bearcat Basketball games. This time, I’d like to share with you all my top 10 favorite Bearcat football games. Now, I wasn’t a major football fan until my sophomore year of college. In my high school days, my football team was not that good so I really had nothing to cheer for. Also, I honestly don’t remember any of the games during my freshman year because I was still being acclimated to the switch of scene from high school to college and the 2010 Bearcat team went 4-7 under first year head coach Butch Jones. So, the below games are my personal favorites that I’ve witnessed the past 6 years, 4 as a student/member in the marching band and 2 as a spectator.
- Bearcats (41) vs Connecticut (0) – 11/22/2014
I remember watching this game, laughing. It was hysterical to see UConn huskies suffer at the hands of the bearcats. The 2014 squad was led by 2nd year coach, Tommy Tuberville. During this season, our defense was absolutely horrendous. Losing 3 straight games against Memphis, OSU, and Miami Hurricanes giving up a total of 146 points. Ouch. It really made me wonder if our defensive coaches were doing their job right. However, after that 3rd loss, the defensive unit started to turn things around. This game vs. UConn was just crazy. UConn couldn’t buy a first down in the first half and our offense was clicking on all cylinders. And, I think that this was the first time ever since back in the 90’s that the Huskies were shut out by an opponent on their home field.
- Bearcats (58) vs Toledo (34) – 9/12/2014
2 years ago, the Bearcats traveled to Toledo to face the Rockets in a non-conference match up. Entering the game, the Bearcats were 5-0 and ranked 21st in AP Polls. In what should’ve been an easy game, turned into a nightmare as the Rockets stunned the bearcats and handing them their first loss. This game was revenge, and also their season opener at Paul Brown Stadium. The hype surrounding the team was QB Gunner Kiel, the Notre Dame transfer that sat out the year prior. He was the #1 rated QB in his senior class and had commitment issues on which school he was going to attend. He went to Notre Dame but was not satisfied then came to UC. On his college game day debut, he threw 418 yards and 6 TD’s including a 52 yard competition to WR Mekale McKay on the first play. Kiel threw TD passes to 6 different receivers. It was pretty much the Bearcat offense that sealed the victory. The hype surrounding Gunner Kiel was true but short lived in coming years.
- Bearcats (31) vs Vanderbilt (24) – 12/31/2011 – Liberty Bowl
This game was during my sophomore year and my first ever bowl trip. It doesn’t get any better that I got to travel with my close friends in the Marching Band on New Year’s Eve and witnessing a Bearcat Bowl win. The Bearcats came in 9-3 and Big East co-champions. The Vanderbilt Commodores’ were 6-6 finishing 4th in the SEC. The game was pretty close, each team scoring touchdowns in the first half. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter that I was holding my breath. Vanderbilt was leading but in ensuing kickoff, Ralph David Abernathy the IV returned the kickoff straight into the end zone. It was so thrilling to see that kickoff return with my own eyes. Running back stud Isaiah Pead ended up being the MVP, running for 149 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Bearcats (34) vs Pittsburgh (10) – 9/6/2012
College football teams usually start out their season playing an FCS team or should I say “easy” team to get things rolling. The first game for the Cincinnati Bearcats, the start of my junior year, was different. Thursday night. ESPN Showcase. Conference match up and battle of the Paddlewheel trophy against the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Bearcats came out rolling; the first play of the game was an easy touchdown run by George Winn. Nippert Stadium was rocking and the cheer team and band was the heart and soul of the game that night. It was pretty thrilling to say the least.
- Bearcats (42) vs Purdue (7) – 8/31/2013
This was my final first game for me as a senior (if that makes sense). It was also the start of the Tommy Tuberville era. White out game, noon kick off. Temperatures was in the 90’s. I remember being in my seat being exhausted by the heat and I wasn’t the only one. My friends in the band were feeling it too but we stuck it through. The team though was very impressive. It could’ve been a shutout but one of our players fumbled the ball which allowed Purdue to score easily. Even though I wasn’t fond of the heat for 4 hours, it was neat getting a beat down win against a Big 10 team.
- #19 Louisville 31, Bearcats 24 (OT) (12/5/2013)
Heartbreak is easily to describe this game but it is still on my top 10 list. I had all my hopes and dreams riding on this game. If the Bearcats would’ve won, we possibly had the chance to go to a BCS bowl or go to the Russel Athletic bowl in Florida. It was my dream to go to a bowl game in Florida. But, Louisville QB and draft pick Teddy Bridgewater was too hard to overcome as we lost in OT. It was an emotional night as this was my senior night/final home game as a student in the “Old Nippert.” There was so much riding on this game but Louisville won in the Battle of the Keg of Nails game and bolted to the ACC. The next day, construction workers came in and started renovating on what is now the improved Nippert Stadium.
- Bearcats (52) vs Rutgers (17) – 11/16/2013
Slug fest is the accurate term to describe this game. Poor Rutgers got outplayed by the Ole Riverboat Gambler himself, Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville pulled every trick play in the book and it all worked in the Bearcats favor. Rutgers didn’t even know what hit them. I was watching this game from home and I couldn’t help myself but laugh the entire time because it was just so insane on all the trick plays that Tuberville pulled out because I’ve heard about how he liked to do those kind of plays during his days at Auburn and it was awesome to see him use that with the Bearcats.
- Bearcats (34) vs Miami Hurricanes (23) – 10/1/2015
Revenge. That’s all that this was. The year prior, the Bearcats visited the Miami Hurricanes and got a beat down by a score of 55-34 but we returned them the favor this year. I remember going to this game with my dad and we sat in the nice, chair back seats and we saw a lot of Hurricane fans around us. The visiting team usually gets the bleachers below us so I was sort of taken back with what I saw. I so nervous because QB Gunner Kiel, RB Mike Boone, and WRs Chris Moore and Johnny Holton were missing and freshman QB Hayden Moore was given the task to lead the Bearcats to the promise land. He did it with great poise and determination. Looking around at the Hurricane fans sitting around us at the end of the game put a great big smile on my face haha. This was another great and much needed win in what would’ve turned out to be a 7-6 record for the bearcats. Overall, it was good night and awesome to see the students storm onto the field after the game.
- Bearcats (48) vs Duke (34) – 12/27/2012 – Belk Bowl
Out of the 3 bowl game I went to as a student/marching band member, this was probably my favorite because the odds were stacked against us. Prior to the bowl game, head coach Butch Jones bolted to take the job at Tennessee along with a handful of coaches. The only coaches we had were Defensive Coordinator/Intern Head Coach Steve Stripling and a few helpers and injured players. We faced the Duke Blue Devils in Charlotte, NC which is only an hour drive for them, talk about home field advantage for the devils. During the game, everything was not going well in the Bearcats favor losing 16 to 3 in the first quarter. They managed to take a 1 point lead at halftime. At halftime, the marching band was walking down to the field to get ready for our halftime performance. While walking down there, I saw duke fan trip one of my friends…on purpose! Boy, Karma is a B***. Tied at 34 in the 4th quarter, the devils were marching deep into Bearcats territory. With 1:34 left to go, the devils fumbled the ball and the Bearcats had a golden opportunity to create a miracle. Which they did. A couple plays later, QB Brendan Kay found wide open TE Travis Kelce for an 83 yard touchdown lifting the Bearcats to pull a Bowl Win. It didn’t finish there. Duke had a chance to respond but the bearcat defense destroyed Duke QB Sean Renfree. Nick Temple snatched the midair ball and scored again. Those 2 touchdowns literally made me dance and scream the entire night. Miracles and Karma is what happened that night. I hope that duke fan enjoyed the bearcat victory as much as we did.
- Bearcats (27) vs Virginia Tech (24) – 9/29/2012
In recent history, I think this game stands out as the most exciting and thrilling game I’ve ever witnessed at a Bearcats game. The original plan for this game was that it was supposed to be played at Nippert Stadium. However, Virginia Tech wanted this played at a neutral site, in Washington D.C., aka “Virginia Tech’s Backyard”, but the Bearcats would be the official “home” team. VT happily paid Cincinnati a great check to expense our travels and the game. Oh, we’ll take the win too! J But, this is not your average, ordinary win. VT led by 4 with 2 minutes remaining after a 56 yard scoring touchdown drive. A minute and 43 seconds is all the Bearcats needed. They got it after QB Munchie Legaux found WR Damon Julian on a 39 yard touchdown catch with 13 seconds left. If you see the touchdown clip on youtube, it was pretty much a miraculous touchdown grab with literally seconds left to play. The band and little area of bearcat fans imploded after that touchdown while the rest of the stadium remained silent. This win would propel the cats to the top 25 and the bearcat band and fans in D.C. dancing and screaming the night away.
It’s hard to get some classic Bearcat football games knowing that there are only 12-13 games a year and with our mediocre season last year. Tuberville was granted a 2 year contract extension. Personally, I don’t believe he should’ve gotten that with what he’s done with the program so far. No bowl wins, hasn’t beat a ranked opponent and constantly rotating through different defensive coordinators each year. Our defense has been terrible as of late, allowing opponents to score basketball-like points. It’s got to stop. I’ve purchased season tickets for the upcoming season so we shall see what Tuberville can do this time around. There are 7 home games this season and I’d like to think of it as revenge season for us. Last year, we’ve lost to BYU, Houston, South Florida and Memphis but they’re all coming to Nippert this year and hopefully we can wins from those opponents. Beating Houston would be amazing as they’re the reigning Peach Bowl Champions and coming off a great season last year. If Tuberville can’t do it this year, then you can count me out of season tickets for next year until we get a good quality, sustainable coach that can take this team to new heights.
Thanks for reading!