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After pacifying the Fighting Irish with a 24-13 win, the Cincinnati Bearcats flaunted their victory by reminding Notre Dame of simpler days — including a slight at former Cincy coach, Brian Kelly.
And if not for ND’s branding all over the field, viewers would be safe to assume that it was a home game for the Bearcats Saturday afternoon.
Cincinnati’s offense came to play as Desmond Ridder threw for two scores, 297 yards and completed 19-of-32 passes. Ridder relied on wideout Alec Pierce to exploit the Cover 2 scheme put forth by Notre Dame, which he did to the tune of six catches for 144 yards.
The elements all gathered for the Bearcats and head coach Luke Fickell to earn an all-time win for the program. Cincinnati earned their first victory against Notre Dame in the program’s history, which is impressive considering the two last met back on October 20th, 1900.
Things could have started on the right foot for Notre Dame after an opening march led Brian Kelly’s offense within 10 yards of a score, but the final play of the drive encapsulated Kelly’s addled coaching for the evening as the Fighting Irish were handed their first loss of the season – sliding to 4-1.
On that drive, Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan began scrambling on 2nd-and-goal — seven yards out — and tossed the ball to Kevin Austin in the end zone. The only issue: Austin had three defensive players between him and Coan’s pass, leading to the night’s first interception for Cincinnati’s defense. The QB’s errant play and the ensuing quarter led to his benching in favor of Drew Pyne. Coan completed 14-of-22 passes for 114 yards and an interception, while his replacement in Pyne threw for 143 yards (9-for-22) and a score.
Kelly spoke on the mid-game switch following the game, per 247 Sports.
“Jack progressed to the point where we felt that he was at 100 percent and he didn’t do anything to lose his job in the Wisconsin game,” said Kelly. “He got hurt, so we felt he got the first shot at it. Tyler, as I mentioned, would be a part of the rotation. Then obviously we got behind and felt like we needed a change and a spark, so that’s why we went with Drew in the second half.”
Going over the gamut of issues for Kelly’s team on offense and defense may have required an extra four quarters to expound on, but the head coach chalked it up to being the lesser team at the end of the day.
“We turned the football over on offense, special teams didn’t cover very well and we didn’t coach very well today and we didn’t play very well today. That’s the long and the short of it. Cincinnati was the better football team today.”
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela