With a 34-17 win over the UConn Huskies, the Cincinnati Bearcats bring their fourth Big East Title in five years back to the Queen City. The two teams collided to finish out their regular season in a matchup that proved to be a showdown until the fourth quarter when Cincinnati went on a 13 point run. In the end UC prevailed and earned a share of the conference title with Syracuse, Rutgers, and Louisville.
Brendon Kay was brilliant in the Bearcats victory. In Cincinnati’s first possession of the game, Kay drove the offense down the field and hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 25 yard touchdown pass. The team quickly took the lead over the Huskies, who were shut out in the first quarter by the UC defense.
UConn opened the second quarter with a drive that ended in an interception thrown by Chandler Whitmer. The Bearcats’ Chris Williams returned the ball 25 yards to the Huskies 39 yard line. The interception return set up another Cincinnati score, this time on a Travis Kelce pass to Brendon Kay for a 39 yard touchdown.
After that score, Connecticut went on a ten point run. Their first three points of the game came on a 40 yard field goal from Bobby Puyol with 6:43 left on the clock in the half. This was followed up on the Huskies next possession with a touchdown pass from Whitmer to Ryan Griffin for a 74 yard touchdown bomb. The teams went into the half with Cincinnati up 14-10 over Connecticut.
On the first possession of the second half Brendon Kay hit Kelce again for another score, putting the Bearcats up 21-10. However, that score didn’t stand long. With just seconds left on the clock in the third quarter, the Lyle McCombs ran for a one yard touchdown for the Huskies. Heading into the fourth quarter, the game was tight with a score of 21-17.
That was last of the scoring for the Huskies, though. The Bearcats shut the home team out in the fourth quarter and put up 13 more points of their own. Tony Miliano started the scoring drive with a 38 yard field goal, and then George Winn ran for a four yard touchdown score. The Bearcats finished off the game with another field goal and the final score gave the Bearcats a title, that just weeks before, many thought was improbable.
At the end of the day, Brendon Kay picked up 245 yards through the air and put up two touchdowns. George Winn ran for 70 yards on 22 carries and added a touchdown of his own. The Bearcats receiving crew all came up big. Anthony McClung led the group in receiving yards with 70, while Travis Kelce led the team with points on the board. Kelce caught five passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 39 yards and another touchdown.
The Bearcats title share came at the expense of Rutgers, who was poised to win the title outright until they suffered a loss at the hands of Louisville this week. This Big East title marks the second consecutive for Cincinnati and the team’s fourth in five years. The only year that the Bearcats left the title on the table since 2008 was in 2010 when UConn, Pitt, and West Virginia shared the honor.