In their first ever meeting, the Cincinnati Bearcats crushed the UCF Knights 52-7. No surprises here: the Knights are as bad without George O'Leary this season as they were with him.
Dull as this game was for Knights fans, at least it was played on Halloween. I say this because the Knights staggered around the field like zombies. And I'm not talking about your modern day, "fast" zombies. I mean your old school zombies. More Night of the Living Dead than 28 Days Later. Zombies lurching back and forth, pieces of their rotting bodies just sloughing off, probably shedding a limb or two periodically.
That's what we got to see today.
The Knights opened with an ineffective drive before punting... and promptly gave up their first touchdown of the day when Kyle Gibson got injured and fell down, uncovering Chris Moore for the easy touchdown catch. That was a two play drive by the way: a 43 yard pass with a 15 yard penalty by UCF tacked on the end, then the touchdown pass. It took twenty-five seconds.
UCF responded with what had seemed to be the rare productive drive in which the Knights moved the ball both passing and rushing. The drive fizzled following an aborted trick play (an end around to Nick Patti who looked to pass, but no one was open) and an incomplete pass on third down. Then Matt Wright, who has been decently reliable, doinked a 34-yard FG attempt off the right upright.
There were opportunities for UCF to stymie the following drive by the Bearcats, which included an unsuccessful attempt at a double pass (because if you're playing UCF, why not?). But the Knights gave up a fourth down conversion, and Kiel ended up throwing a 59 yard touchdown pass when the UCF blitz failed to reach him in time.
UCF's next drive, like so many this year, ended in a turnover. Justin Holman over-threw a deep ball directly into the hands of the waiting Cincinnati defensive back. Three plays later, Kiel had thrown his third TD pass of the first quarter.
Kiel left the game early in the second quarter after going 7/7 for 158 yards and 3 TDs (which is a QBR of 431), yielding time to the backup QB Hayden Moore. It is a frightening thing when a team is so bad that garbage time begins in the early second quarter, but there you go. That's UCF this year.
Hey, Shaquill Griffin got another pick though. Off Moore. In that early second quarter garbage time. And it didn't translate to points.
Moore would soon get his first touchdown pass of the day, however, and UCF would not get too much done the rest of the half, either. With 4:04 to go in the half, a Cincinnati running back Tion Green picked up a touchdown on an seven yard run and made the score 35-0 following the extra point.
UCF almost had a productive drive to end the half . . . but the Knights couldn't score on fourth and goal from inside the five.
For reasons unknown, Cincinnati Head Coach Tommy Tuberville put Kiel back in to start the third quarter. I suppose it's not actually much of a risk given that the UCF defense could not get any pressure on the QB. Kiel quickly completed two more passes. The second one was for 78 yards and a touchdown to Johnny Holton. Really. It was the Bearcats' third touchdown drive of less than a minute.
Emphasizing UCF's utter futility, the Knights were again denied points on their first drive of the third quarter, when Wright again doinked the FG attempt, this time off the left upright.
What followed was a mercifully clock chewing drive capped by another Kiel touchdown pass, his fifth of the day. And so the Knights stood at 49-0 with time left in the third quarter. Kiel's day was really done this time, and the Cincinnati signal caller ended up 15/15 for 319 yards.
The Knights would eventually get on the board in the fourth quarter with redshirt freshman running back C.J. Jones's touchdown run to make it 52-7. It's a little frightening to think things could have even been worse for UCF, but Cincinnati went for it on fourth and five in the red zone which gave the Knights an opportunity to force the turnover on downs (which they did, oddly enough).
Were there any bright spots for the Knights today?
Maybe a little bit. A very little bit. The offensive line, especially the right side, did a decent job of run blocking. The Knights totaled 212 rushing yards, and Jones had some strong runs for a total of 123 yards and the touchdown, including runs of 50 and 20 yards. None of this was really relevant given the game situation the Knights quickly found themselves in, but hey raw numbers are nice.