UC-Miami rivalry not so much lately

UC-Miami rivalry not so much lately

Published Sep. 20, 2013 12:05 p.m. ET

It’s the oldest college football rivalry game west of the Alleghany Mountains but rivalry is a loose term at this point. It’s hard to be a rival with the kid up the street who is half your size, which in today’s world of college athletics is the basic equivalent between the University of Cincinnati and Miami University when it comes to football.

Saturday in Oxford UC and Miami will play for the 118th time, the winner getting to take home the Victory Bell.

Miami leads the overall series 59-51-7 but last got to ring the Victory Bell in 2005 when it beat UC 44-16. The Bearcats have won the last seven games by an average score of 40-10, including last season’s 52-14 win at Nippert Stadium.

While UC has lifted its program up in national stature – moving to the Big East (now the revamped American Athletic Conference) and going to a pair of BCS bowl games by winning the league’s automatic qualifying bid – Miami is going through the lowest point of the storied program’s history. The RedHawks have had losing records six of the last seven seasons and after dropping the first two games of this season at Marshall and Kentucky by a combined 93-21 score things aren’t looking too positive this season for head coach Don Treadwell’s team.

Miami used to be a standard bearer program in the Mid-American Conference, one of those teams that were capable of knocking off the bigger boys and it wouldn’t surprise anyone that was paying attention. Northern Illinois is now that program for the MAC.

The last time Miami had three consecutive losing seasons before this current streak was 1987-89. Before that you have to go back to 1939-42 for such a trend of losing in Oxford.

Treadwell, 8-18 in his third season at his alma mater, has a young squad. Out of the 100 players listed in the program, 74 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Games like UC are something to point towards. Treadwell has lived the Victory Bell from both sides; he was a four-year starting wide receiver at Miami, from 1978-81, and went 3-1 against the Bearcats. As an assistant coach at both schools he’s 2-3-1.
“The UC week for us certainly is and always has been a game of significance,” said Treadwell. “We just have a lot of respect and there have been some tremendous games over the years and whether you play in it or coach in it that’s always something you look forward to and that’s kind of where we’re turning our attention as we go forward.”

UC coach Tommy Tuberville has been a part of some of big rivalries in his time; he was an assistant under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson at Miami (Fla.) when the Hurricanes won three national titles, going through Florida State in the process. He went 7-3 against Alabama while coaching at Auburn from 1999-2008, including six straight wins in the Iron Bowl series at one point and a 4-1 record on Alabama’s home turf in Tuscaloosa.

“Rivalries are for alumni, former players and fans to talk about. They’re always great and that’s what makes college football fun,” said Tuberville. “It’s what separates us from other leagues because of the rivalries that we have all across the country. It’s talked about, it’s thought about and it’s something fun that you can talk about when you’re a player for years to come about how you played and what the outcome was. I’ve had a chance to coach in several of them over the years and they’re a lot of fun.

“I can reflect back on those and the fun that we had preparing, the fun that you had winning or the things that happened when you lost. A lot of other games that you play or coach in, you don’t remember quite as well.”

UC is a 23-point favorite in the game. The Bearcats (2-1) have a bye week after this game and then start conference play Oct. 5 at South Florida. They are still working on their own kinks. And they don’t want to lose the Victory Bell.

“It means a lot,” said senior quarterback Brendon Kay. “They still lead the overall series, so for us as seniors, we have to reiterate to the younger guys how much it means to the university, the city and the alumni. We know we’re going to get their best effort and we’ve got to do everything we can to keep it.”