The Cincinnati Bearcats lose their season opener to Arkansas by a final score of 31-24. In a game that was highly competitive and close for the entire four quarters the Bearcats were not able to get past their own mistakes and ultimately the Razorbacks as well.
Being lead by KJ Jefferson the Razorbacks were able to gain 223 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and 224 yards and one touchdown on the ground. With the rushing touchdown also coming from Jefferson himself.
The new look Bearcats defense was able to hold their own and keep Arkansas from putting up more points in a game that they look destined to score nearly 50 in. That defense was able to keep it a close ballgame even with the early offensive struggles from the Bearcats.
Through the air the Bearcats were able to pass for 325 yards and two touchdowns from Ben Bryant who was making his first career start for the Bearcats. His performance was one that led many to lament during the first quarter and miss the past seasons with Desmond Ridder behind center. Bryant ultimately turned it around very quickly and showed why he won the starting job for the Bearcats.
Unfortunately, that performance came too little too late as the Bearcats just were not able to take the lead and ultimately ended staying behind until the 31-24 final score to end the game.
Cincinnati Offensive Struggles:
While the final stats may look like an excellent performance it must be said that the Bearcats struggled early and often on offense with Bryant looking like he was lost on the field. During the first quarter he overthrew multiple receivers that had nothing but open field in front of them. He also threw a costly interception inside the red zone that lead to a Razorback touchdown.
While Bryant was able to finish the game strong, there was other issues from the offense including the offensive line which racked up four penalties on a drive that started at the Arkansas three yard line. Those penalties caused the Bearcats to miss a valuable chance at a touchdown and more momentum early in the game.
Kicking Haunts The Bearcats Again:
In a scene just like the past few seasons the Bearcats have issues on their special teams unit. That would come in the form of kickers as Ryan Coe missed two field goals during the game that would have changed the entire course of the game. If the team is not able to turn it around their special teams unit will haunt them through the season and may even cause them to lose more games than just this one.
Yes, the game started slowly for the offense, but Bryant was able to show he deserved to be the started and has the potential to lead this Bearcats team through the season and keep his starting job. The defense showed that even with the loss of major players they looked just as good as ever and can keep the team in games. The defense will take the Bearcats all the way through the season and possibly to a New Year’s Six bowl game, as long as the offense can hold their own.
For Cincinnati Fans:
The loss sucks obviously, since it was the first regular season loss since 2019. Keep positive and believe in Luke Fickell and the players, they can and will turn it around. Going to any SEC school and keeping it close and losing by only a touchdown in a game where you are not the favorite and have a majority of new players on the field is nothing to scoff at. The Bearcats just need some time on the field to get used to playing with each other and they should be back to the Bearcats from the past few seasons.
Following this loss the Bearcats return home to Nippert Stadium to take on Kennesaw State. The Bearcats have won 27 straight games at home since a loss to Temple in the 2017 season, so it is safe to say that streak will go to 28.
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