The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will host the Cincinnati Bearcats in a top-ten matchup Saturday in South Bend, a game that is likely the biggest in Cincinnati program history. After an undefeated regular season in 2020 that ended on a sour note in a close loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, Cincinnati entered the 2021 season with high expectations and the goal of becoming the first team from the Group of Five to make the College Football Playoff.
Luke Fickell’s Bearcats have an experienced roster, led by dual threat, four-year starter Desmond Ridder at QB and the bruising Jerome Ford at RB, and complemented by a defense that despite losing coordinator Marcus Freeman to Notre Dame this offseason, still ranks among the best in the American. The Bearcats rank first in the AAC in allowing only 15.0 PPG and 4.15 yards per play and have a stifling pass defense led by CB Ahmad Gardner, which has allowed opposing QBs – including Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. – to only accumulate a rating of 80.50 on a paltry 5.0 yards per attempt.
The Irish and Bearcats have played only once previously in their histories, a 58-0 Notre Dame victory in 1900.
Game Date: Saturday, October 2nd
Start Time: 2:30 PM ET
Line: Notre Dame +2.5
We kick off our deep dive into the Bearcats with a first glance look at the coaching staff, results, and statistical leaders.
HEAD COACH – Luke Fickell, 5th season
Cincinnati Record: 38-14
Overall Record: 44-21 (Fickell was the interim coach in 2011 at his alma mater Ohio State following Jim Tressel’s resignation)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Denbrock, 5th season
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Tressel, 1st season
2021 RESULTS (3-0)
Miami (OH) – Won 49-14
Murray State – Won 42-7
at Indiana – Won 38-24
Rushing: RB Jerome Ford – 50 att., 300 yards, 6.0 YPC, 6 TD; QB Desmond Ridder – 20 att., 72 yards, 3.6 YPC, 2 TD; QB Evan Prater – 7 att., 52 yards, 7.4 YPC, 1 TD; RB Charles McClelland – 8 att., 45 yards, 5.6 YPC, 0 TD
Passing: QB Desmond Ridder – 54 com., 83 att., 65.1%, 748 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 163.77 rating
Receiving: WR Tyler Scott – 7 rec., 172 yards, 24.6 YPC, 2 TD; WR Alec Pierce – 9 rec., 150 yards, 16.7 YPC, 1 TD; WR Jadon Thompson – 6 rec., 112 yards, 18.7 YPC, 0 TD; WR Michael Young Jr. – 8 rec., 110 yards, 13.8 YPC, 0 TD; WR Tre Tucker – 6 rec., 70 yards, 11.7 YPC, 0 TD; TE Leonard Taylor – 5 rec., 40 yards, 8.0 YPC, 1 TD
Tackles: LB Deshawn Pace – 25; LB Darrian Beavers – 22; LB Joel Dublanko – 20; S Bryan Cook – 13; DL Malik Vann – 13; DL Curtis Brooks – 12; DL Jowon Briggs – 12
Tackles for Loss: LB Darrian Beavers – 3.5; DL Malik Vann – 3.0; LB Joel Dublanko – 3.0; DL Jabari Taylor – 2.0; LB Deshawn Pace – 2.0
Sacks: LB Darrian Beavers – 2.5; DL Jabari Taylor – 1.0; LB Joel Dublanko – 0.5
Interceptions: CB Arquon Bush – 2; LB Deshawn Pace – 1; S Ja’von Hicks – 1; S Bryan Cook – 1; CB Ahmad Gardner – 1
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