Cincinnati’s winning streak against Miami, Ohio put the Bearcats in position for a milestone in the longest-running football rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The No. 8 Bearcats stand a chance of their 15th straight win in the series when they clash in Cincinnati on Saturday, even beating the RedHawks for the first time in nearly 70 years.
As important as this is, especially to the fan base, the Bearcats are keen to build on last season’s 9-1 record, which included a devastating 24-21 loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Cincinnati was ahead 21:10 in the fourth quarter but was beaten on a 53-yard field goal three seconds to go and finished eighth in the last poll.
The loss gnawed at the bearcats throughout prep camp, noted quarterback Desmond Ridder.
“We had bad taste in our month,” he said.
Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference tries to crack the Power 5 and secure a place in the college football playoff.
“We finished the season as a top 10 team, but for me the goal is how do we get a top 10 program?” said coach Luke Fickell.
The Bearcats will likely have to go undefeated to be considered for the playoffs, which means they will need street wins against No. 17 Indiana and No. 9 Notre Dame.
“We have a chance to take it to the next level,” said Fickell.
A chance is all the RedHawks want after last season’s shortened COVID-19 season capped them to a 2-1 record after a Mid-American Conference championship in 2019.
“I’m just looking forward to playing soccer,” said security guard Mike Brown during the preparation exercises. “I’m happy to be outside in the heat and being yelled at by the coaches. Our main goal is to win the MAC championship, but after last year we only want to make it week after week.”
Miami returns nine starters on the offensive and 10 on the defensive. Not only that, but with players granted bonus season due to the pandemic, the RedHawks roster is filled with players in their fifth and sixth years.
“It’s just great,” said Miami’s coach Chuck Martin. “You hang out with these kids all the time and just develop relationships with them. … I just like being with these guys. “
Miami and Cincinnati, about 40 miles apart in southwest Ohio, did not play the Battle for the Victory Bell in 2020, breaking the series of annual encounters from 1945.
Cincinnati’s 35-13 home win over the RedHawks on September 14, 2019 reduced Miami’s lead to 59-58-7 in a series that began with a 0-0 draw on December 8, 1888.
The RedHawks’ last win was 44-26 in Oxford, Ohio on September 28, 2005.
Miami has tied or held the lead in the series since 1916 when the series stood at 10-10-3. The series was last tied in 1953.
The schools played every year from 1909 until World War II caused a two-year absence (1943, ’44).
If the Bearcats win on Saturday, they will close the gap to Miami’s winning record in Cincinnati of 44-42-5.