Sure, thanks to a tweet from former co-worker Rich Walburg, I'll borrow that headline (and I'm probably not the only one). It appears our halftime plans of driving to Charlotte has now been diverted south Bearcat fans.
From the Muffler Bowl to probably the Sugar we go (official word coming tomorrow). Realistically, since UC didn't blow out Pitt, I'd have to think TCU would get the nod over the Bearcats in the event Nebraska beats Texas (based on what I'm hearing).
But, enough of that later. How 'bout that game!
Most unpredictable ending I've ever seen in terms of Bearcat games. 45-44 and the guy that missed an extra point and had a blocked punt, wins the game on an extra point (Rogers). Of course, before that, you had a key extra point miss from Pitt after the Dion Lewis TD with 1:36 to go.
Then, key passes and receptions to move down the field until Tony Pike miraculously finds Armon Binns in the endzone with 33 ticks left.
That would be Armon Binns who played the game with a separated shoulder according to Brian Kelly after the game. Of course, in terms of shoulders, you'd have to wonder if no one's is as sore as Mardy Gilyard.
That would be Mardy "Should At Least Be Invited To The Heisman Festivities" Gilyard. Even Bengals QB Carson Palmer was intelligent enough to include Gilyard on his ballot (behind Tebow and McCoy).
Down 31-10 late in the first half, Gilyard had what was the "key" play of the game in my opinion...a 99-yard kickoff return to pull the Bearcats' collective heads out of their fannies and get them back in the game.
He followed with a 68-yard TD reception in the third quarter and finished with five grabs for 118 yards, seven kick returns for 256 yards and 374 yards of total offense. Mardy came to play, led by example and willed UC to win that game when things were looking bleak.
If I'm the UC bookstore, DuBois or Dick's, I'm ordering heavy on the #1 Bearcat jerseys. Gilyard got it done, and when he didn't Binns did, and when Binns didn't, D.J. Woods was huge with seven clutch catches. All three of Tony Pike's main targets found the endzone at Heinz Field.
Also, while the running game was nothing compared to Dion Lewis' day (47 lugs for 194 yards and three scores) Isaiah Pead was able to chew up 76 yards and Jake Ramsey did punch one in.
They've redefined winning ugly. Their stats are awful. They give up big running yards. They give up big plays. And...they're 12-0. Winning ugly beats a pretty loss anyday.
In their behalf, after getting shredded for 31 points in the first half, it's amazing they only gave up 13 in the second half. Aaron Webster and Dominique Battle both took advantage of poor decisions by Bill Stull and the halftime adjustments on the run game were enough to throw Pitt off just enough. In the end, in a forced throwing situation, the defense stood up. In the last two games, UConn and WVU were able to zip down the field and the Bearcats held up, eventually sacking Stull to set up the Pike victory formation.
On Tony Pike...I'll admit, I was leaning toward a hook at one point for Collaros. So was BK. He told Zach to warm up.
Outside of three redzone appearances late in the game (he eventually handed off to Pead for a score) Collaros stayed next to Kelly.
In baseball terms, Kelly made the proverbial "trip to the mound" and stuck with his starter. I suppose that's why Brian's a coach in demand and I'm (other than my UC gigs) unemployed.
The good move was no move and BK and Tony Pike have the Big East championship hats to prove it.
Tony finishes the day 22-44 for 302 yards, three picks, but three touchdowns. Lost in those totals is the fact that he completed his last 12 throws. When it was crunch time, Tony Pike delivered.
Actually, if we all had access to UC's tape session later, we'd probably see that Tony threw a number of catchable balls that weren't caught. Not making excuses, because Pitt's defense was tough, but the field and weather conditions played a huge part in that. I saw a lot of slips and misses and I think UC would've had a chance at pulling away on a dry, artificial field.
But, you play what you're dealt and UC's experience in winning was what pulled this one out. Looking at trends and momentum, you would've guessed with Pitt's running game rolling and the lousy weather that a 21-point lead would hold up.
Thankfully, Mardy Gilyard paid no attention to trends and momentum today. What you got was the wildest ending I've seen since Gino Guidugli hit Jon Olinger on a 4th and 27 in Memphis one year and then hit him three more times to pull out a win in Elvis-land for the first time.
However, some of you won't remember that and it doesn't even compare to the magnitude of what happened today. Back then, that game caused a cheer in Shoemaker from what I was told (basketball game going on at the same time). Today, cheers erupted at Redsfest and in every bar, store or home with a TV signal. That final drive will be replayed ad infinitum (fancy Latin there) and will be retold to Bearcat fans forever.
Your University of Cincinnati weathered what looked like a "perfect storm" for a perfect season.
12 up, 12 down.
Next team in?