It's one of the oldest rivalries in college football. The Miami-Cincinnati rivalry dates back to 1888, with the RedHawks holding the lead in the series 59-51-7. But for the last seven years Cincinnati has claimed the Victory Bell and the win as Miami has struggled to keep up with the growing Bearcats program.
Saturday when the RedHawks (0-2) welcome Cincinnati (2-1) to Oxford at 4 p.m., they face an uphill battle in their quest to break the streak. Miami is listed as a 23 point underdog, and for good reason. The RedHawks have struggled to take flight this season, being outscored a combined 93-21 in losses at Marshall and at Kentucky to open their season. Even after a bye week to focus on correcting mistakes and getting ready for the 'Cats, Miami is heavily outmatched.
The 'Hawks enter this game ranked 114th in the nation in rushing yards, 120th in passing yards, 123rd in points for and 125th in points against. That's out of 125 FBS schools. To put it bluntly Miami is bad. Austin Boucher has looked like a shell of his former self which had no problem stepping in to replace an injured Zac Dysert in 2010 as a true freshman. But now that the reins have officially been handed over to him Boucher seems to have forgotten how to fly. Making matters worse is that the offensive line has played poorly in both of Miami's games, letting Boucher take a sack six times so far. The line can't create time for Boucher or create movement for a running game that is non existent.
Against a Cincinnati team that has had little problems getting after the quarterback in its first three games this will be a key area of concern tomorrow. As bad as Miami's offense has been, it's defense has struggled equally as much. Considering the 'Cats enter this game with one of the nations most balanced offenses (despite losing quarterback Munchie Legaux in Week 2 vs Illinois) which has no problems scoring points.
Despite the RedHawks hopes to hit the ground running in this game against a heated rival, it looks like this one will be ugly...early on. Unless Boucher can play like he did three years ago, the offensive line can learn to block and the defense can stop snapping like twigs, expect Cincinnati to easily cover the spread.
Miami may need a miracle to bring the Victory Bell back to Oxford.
The game can be streamed live on ESPN3.