CINCINNATI AT MICHIGAN
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium
TV/radio: ABC/WWJ 950
Line: Michigan by 34
View from the other side
Tom Groeschen, beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, breaks down the Bearcats for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into Saturday's game against Michigan. You can follow his work on Twitter @TomGroeschen
1. Did the Bearcats hold some cards close to the vest in the season opener in light of Michigan this week?
Not necessarily, UC coach Luke Fickell said. “I don’t know if you’d say that we held some things back. We really wanted to say hey, this is who we are. I’m not going to say we saved that for Week 2, we’re going to save that big shot for Week 3 … We had to find out some things about ourselves, maybe do some things they didn’t do in the past. As we have an opportunity to move forward we’ll have a better grasp of what it is, and how we have an opportunity to make some plays.”
2. Quarterback Hayden Moore had three touchdowns, no interceptions. This appears to be fast, athletic Michigan defense. How do you think he will handle it?
Moore is a calm customer back there. As a fourth-year junior, he has plenty of game experience and has seen big rushes. But, the UC offensive line was the team’s biggest question mark entering the season. I would expect a variety of quick, short throws by UC so that the Michigan rush does not overpower them.
3. Austin Peay was able to run the ball. Does UC have the run 'D' to slow Michigan, which had 215 yards in the season opener against Florida?
Good question. Recalling the sight of the Austin Peay QB sometimes running free, and the total rushing yardage (224) against UC does not appear to bode well. The Bearcats have some solid DTs in Cortez Broughton and Marquise Copeland, but I am unsure where the ‘edge’ rush might come from. They had only 1 sack (by LB/Nickelback Tyrell Gilbert) against Austin Peay.
4. How has Luke Fickell already made his mark at Cincinnati?
Tommy Tuberville lost the fans as UC struggled to a 4-8 record last season. Fickell was an immediate hit with fans and players and the honeymoon is still on. He brought a youthful energy that had been lacking, and the team appears to have bought in.
5. Will playing before 100,000-plus be an issue for the Bearcats.
The Bearcats insist noise will not be an issue. They are devoting extra time to hand signals and silent communication during practice this week. Music always is played at practices anyway, but the volume is being cranked louder this week. Some of the seniors played before 108,000 as freshmen at Ohio State in 2014, so they won’t be bothered by the crowd. But, 69 percent of the UC roster is freshmen/redshirt freshmen/sophomores. How will the younger players handle it? That could be an issue for some.
Bearcats to watch
Mike Boone, RB: Michigan fans probably know the Bearcats’ running back as the one who said UC will “shock the world.” He gained 100 yards rushing on 19 carries and had a touchdown in Cincinnati’s season-opening 26-14 victory over Austin Peay. It’s the first time Boone played since missing the final three-plus games in 2016. That was his sixth career 100-yard game.
Thomas Geddis, WR: The sophomore receiver had 48 yards on four receptions from Hayden Moore, including one of the three touchdowns Moore threw. That’s the second straight game dating back to last season that the 6-foot-5, 185-pound Geddis has caught a touchdown pass. He played in eight games last season and had seven catches for 139 yards and one score.
Malik Clemens, S: The 6-foot, 210-pound safety led the Bearcats last week against Austin Peay with 18 tackles, including two solo, and he also had a pass breakup. The junior has played in every game at Cincinnati (24) and is looked at as a leader on the defense. Clemens had 36 tackles all last year, so he’s halfway there already.
Facts and figures
■ Old programs, new acquaintances: Michigan (1879) and Cincinnati (1885) are among the oldest programs in college football, and yet, the two have never met. Until now. This will be the 151st opponent all-time for the Wolverines.
■ First-timers: In the season openers for both teams, there were a large number of players who got their first collegiate snaps. The Bearcats saw 18 players make their college debuts, and Michigan had 20.
■ On the road again: Cincinnati begins a stretch of three-straight games on the road starting with Michigan. The Bearcats will travel up the road to Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 16 and then to Navy on Sept. 23. It’s been 17 years since UC has played three straight on the road. Michigan is at home these next two weeks before traveling to Purdue on Sept. 23.