Cincinnati’s winning streak against Miami (Ohio) has put the Bearcats in position for a milestone in the longest-running football rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The No. 8 Bearcats have a chance for a 15th straight victory in the series when they meet in Cincinnati on Saturday, and doing so would pull them even with the RedHawks for the first time in nearly 70 years.
As important as that is, especially to the fan bases, the Bearcats want to build on last season’s 9-1 record that included a wrenching 24-21 loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Cincinnati was up 21-10 in the fourth quarter but was beaten on a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left and finished eighth in the final poll.
The loss gnawed at the Bearcats throughout the preseason camp, quarterback Desmond Ridder noted.
“We had a bad taste in our month,” he said.
Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference is trying to crack the Power 5 and earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
“We ended the season as a Top 10 team, but to me, the goal is how do we become a Top 10 program?” coach Luke Fickell said.
The Bearcats will likely need to go undefeated to be considered for the playoffs, meaning they would need road victories against No. 17 Indiana and No. 9 Notre Dame.
“We have a chance to take it to the next level,” Fickell said.
A chance is all the RedHawks want after last season’s COVID-19 shortened season limited them to a 2-1 record following a Mid-American Conference championship in 2019.
“I’m just excited to play football,” safety Mike Brown said during preseason practices. “I’m excited to be out there in the heat and getting yelled at by the coaches. Our main goal is to win the MAC championship, but after last year, we just want to take it week by week.”
Miami returns nine starters on offense and 10 on defense. Not only that, but with players granted a bonus season of eligibility because of the pandemic, the RedHawks roster is filled with fifth- and sixth-year players.
“It’s just awesome,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “You spend all the time with these kids, and you just grow relationships with them. … I just like being around those guys.”
Miami and Cincinnati, separated by about 40 miles in southwest Ohio, did not play in the Battle for the Victory Bell in 2020, breaking the streak of annual matchups dating to 1945.
Cincinnati’s 35-13 home win vs. the RedHawks on Sept. 14, 2019, reduced Miami’s advantage to 59-58-7 in a series that began Dec. 8, 1888, with a 0-0 tie.
The RedHawks’ last win was 44-26 in Oxford, Ohio, on Sept. 28, 2005.
Miami has been tied for or held the series lead 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 Saturday, they will also close the gap on Miami’s winning record in Cincinnati that stands at 44-42-5.
–Field Level Media