Football fans across the country might be familiar with the Midwest's more public hatred between two neighboring-state schools (I'm sure you, dear reader, don't have the slightest idea as to whom I'm referring to), but Saturday marks the 119th meeting of Miami and Cincinnati in the oldest Division I rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The Battle for the Victory Bell marks yet another week for Miami (0-3) to maneuver out of what has been a near-two year tailspin. A close first half at the Big House has no doubt inspired the Red and White, but they face a Bearcat offense that dropped a whopping 58 points on MAC opponent Toledo. Sophomore Gunner Kiel annihilated the Rocket defense from under center, totaling 418 yards through the air while tying a school-record six touchdown passes, all to different receivers. This doesn't bode well for a Miami defense that has surrendered 30+ points in two of its first three games, though the 'Hawks did look spry early on against the Wolverines and MAC defensive player of the week Quentin Rollins recorded six tackles and his second interception on the year. Miami has also been formidable late in a series this year, ranking 21st nationally in third down defense. Whether that will be enough to stifle the Red and Black will be the question of evening.
All things point to a shootout the size of Texas, and the ammunition will be supplied in large part by two Notre Dame transfers, quarterbacks Kiel and Andrew Hendrix. Hendrix was held to a season-low 12-for-26, 165-yard and one score outing against Michigan, but has been wonderful through three weeks at the helm. In his Week 1 and 2 starts he compiled 677 yards through the air, breaking current Denver Broncos back Zac Dysert's 2009 record of 623. Couple his penchant for the deep ball with a UC secondary that was exploited for 34 points and Miami just might find its first victory in 23 months.
Regardless of the outcome, Miami wants a close contest, something head coach Chuck Martin has harped on since the season opener. If Hendrix can get things started early with receivers David Frazier and Dawan Scott, the RedHawks might just be able to keep up with that Red and Black offensive machine.
The Battle for the Victory Bell's most current iteration will be held Saturday, Sept. 20 at Paul Brown Stadium. Miami holds the series edge 59-52-7 but UC has dominated the yearly matchup the past eight meetings, the longest streak for either side since the Bell's inception in 1888. The offensive fireworks between the winless 'Hawks and the 1-0 Cats will rage in "The Jungle" at 7:30 p.m, and can be found on the CBS Sports Network.