The Cincinnati Bearcats traveled up to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in the Big House on Saturday afternoon, receiving a 36-14 loss in the process. The loss drops UC to 1-1 on the season. Cincinnati came in as heavy underdogs in Luke Fickell’s return in a game against Michigan, but they didn’t fold against the number eight team in the nation.

Michigan got off to a hot start, scoring on their first drive via a 43-yard touchdown pass from Wilton Speight to Kekoa Crawford just over three minutes into the game. Cincinnati stalled on their first drive, going three-and-out, as did Michigan on their ensuing drive. After a delay of game penalty against the ‘Cats, Hayden Moore threw a pick-six to Tyrell Kinnel, quickly putting them down 14-0 against the Wolverines.  Cincinnati looked totally overmatched and poised for a blowout up to this point, but was able to gather themselves and play competitive football.

UC went three-and-out again after the pick-six but was able to recover a fumble thanks to Tyrell Gilbert at Michigan’s 38 on the punt. The Bearcats responded by slowly driving those 38 yards in nine plays, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Mike Boone. Michigan answered back with a field goal, extending their lead to 17-7, and it stayed there going into halftime. UC had a chance to go into the half with 10 points, but Josh Pasley missed the 51-yard field goal as time expired.

UC came out of the half completely re-energized, completing a series of third down conversions in route to a 10-play, 85-yard drive by the Bearcats that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kahlil Lewis. Only down by three now (remember the missed field goal), the Bearcats forced a Michigan punt on their first drive of the second half.

Later in the quarter, UC had a couple of chances to take the lead against Michigan. Hayden Moore missed a wide-open pass that may have gone deep, then a couple drives later Kahlil Lewis broke free deep on a pass from Hayden Moore but dropped it. He would have easily of walked into the end zone alone if he had caught it. After these missed chances, Cincinnati was never able to recover.

After a safety and another pick-six by Hayden Moore on back-to-back drives, Michigan ran away with this game. The game ended with a 36-14 score. The score was not indicative of how close the game was through the first-three quarters. The Bearcats did not get blown out, they actually competed and gave Michigan a run for their money at times during the game. Luke Fickell obviously had his team prepared for the game, as he knows Michigan well from his time at Ohio State.

Michigan did outgain UC by 214 yards, but UC had only three less first downs and the time of possession was nearly even. They were also even in turnovers at two apiece.

Michigan was clearly the better team, but UC does look improved in two games so far compared to last season, especially from last week too. Cincinnati travels to Oxford, Ohio next week to take on the 1-1 Miami University Redhawks (who by the way, looked more impressive against Austin Peay yesterday than UC did last week) in their annual “rivalry” matchup for the Victory Bell. UC has won every matchup since 2006, but one has to figure that this year will be Miami’s best chance to beat UC in a long time.

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