After defeating UCLA in its home-opener last week, the University of Cincinnati football team shifts focus to its first road game of the season Saturday against No. 5 Ohio State.
The Bearcats and Buckeyes will play for the first time since 2014, when then-No. 22 Ohio State defeated UC, 50-28, at Ohio Stadium. Cincinnati has never left Columbus with a victory (0-13) and hasn't beat Ohio State since 1897.
The Buckeyes cruised in week-one against Florida Atlantic (FAU), scoring 28 first-quarter points in route to a 45-21 victory.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields shined in his Ohio State debut, opening the game with a 51-yard rushing touchdown. The Georgia transfer finished with 325 yards and five total touchdowns.
Fellow sophomore running back J.K Dobbins was responsible for the only other Buckeye touchdown of the day, finding the end-zone on a 1-yard rush early in the fourth quarter.
Despite Ohio State scoring six times, UC head coach Luke Fickell stressed the difficulty in studying opposing offenses after one week.
“I don’t know if they had to [show much on offense], but it’s still similar to what they’ve done over the last couple of years with coach [Ryan] Day there,” Fickell said in his weekly news conference Tuesday. “I think defensively it’s really difficult going into a game and showing a whole lot … So, I think defensively you’re probably a little more curious than you are offensively as good as they’ve been over the last few years offensively.”
The Bearcats had success of their own in week-one, defeating the Bruins, 24-14. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Desmond Ridder was on full display, passing for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior running back Michael Warren II was named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll, rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown to go along with a receiving touchdown.
UC’s defense remained dominant, despite being without safety James Wiggins, who will miss the entire season with a knee injury. The Bearcats were still able to force four turnovers and surrender only 218 yards of offense.
Ohio State enters as 16-point favorites.
Here’s a look at two keys to the matchup:
The Bearcats got off to a rough start against the Bruins, committing four false-start penalties on their first two offensive series. UC's 10 total penalties cost them 63 yards.
Fickell said postgame that Ridder lost his voice mid-game, forcing the team to go to a silent count.
UC may have to go to it again, as noise will be a factor. Ohio Stadium seats 102,082 compared to Nippert Stadium’s 40,000. The Bearcats didn’t seem prepared for the change and it could be more costly in a hostile environment.
Taking the crowd out early
The Buckeyes scored 21 points in the first six minutes against FAU, who struggled to gain any momentum after.
Both teams never trailed in their openers, but Fields and first-year head coach Ryan Day have yet to trail a game in their careers. If UC is able to take the crowd noise out early, it could lead to less mistakes and put Ohio State on its heels —something that doesn’t happen too often.