The University of Cincinnati (UC) Bearcats are looking for their 15th consecutive Victory Bell title in their season opener against their in-state rival, the Miami Redhawks. This Saturday, head coach Luke Fickell will lead the Bearcats into Nippert Stadium, beginning his fifth season at UC.
First to take the field for the Bearcats will be this year's seven senior captains: quarterback Desmond Ridder, wide receiver Alec Pierce, offensive lineman Vincent McConnel, linebacker Joel Deblanko, defensive end Myjai Sanders, safety Bryan Cook and cornerback Coby Bryant.
Ridder, a second-year captain, was pre-selected along with Bryant following their 2020 seasons, during which Ridder threw for 2,296 yards and Bryant secured four interceptions. Fickell announced his captains at practice on Aug. 27, saying they’re a “unique type of group.”
Cincinnati’s first opponent of 2021, the Redhawks, are looking for another win to add to their 59-58 record against the Bearcats. UC’s annual Victory Bell game, which is going on its 125th year, last saw the Bearcats take the title in 2019 with a 35-13 win.
Fickell said that time will tell whether his team has accomplished what they wanted to at this summer’s camp, affirming that their attitude, competition and talent were present throughout the off-season.
“Nothing has been given to these guys,” he said.
Cincinnati is defending a 40-36-3 home record against Miami, who had their last win against the Bearcats in 2005.
The Bearcats must prepare for their game against the Redhawks with very little intel on their opponent’s play; Miami played only three games in the 2020 season. The Redhawks are among one of the four out-of-conference teams that the Bearcats are scheduled against prior to entering conference play.
Saturday’s matchup will mark the return of 40,000 fans to Nippert Stadium, a change from last season's attendance of around 5,000 due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Too much is given, much more is expected,” said Fickell ahead of Saturday’s game, which can be viewed on ESPN plus at 3:30 p.m.