Relatively quietly, Luke Fickell and his staff have led Cincinnati to an impressive 9-1 season so far, with a big game on the horizon this weekend with College GameDay in Orlando for their match up with UCF before ending the regular season at home against ECU.
What many don’t realize is just how close Fickell is from turning his first 4-8 season with the Bearcats into a special undefeated run heading into week 10 of their season.
With under two-minutes left in the first half of a defensive battle against Temple back on October 20th, coming out of a Temple timeout, Cincinnati lined up for a field goal to break their 10-10 tie with the Owls.
Kicker Cole Smith drilled the kick, but almost as he strikes the ball in his kicking motion, you can see the official on the right side of the video blowing the play dead.
…of course, the kick splits the uprights.
The white hat then explains, “There was no play. We were still in a TV timeout. The ball had not been marked ready for play.” But looking at the officials and both teams on the field, everyone certainly seems ready to play. Nonetheless, the kick didn’t count.
Here’s that pivotal moment.
I think this is worth revisiting. A lot of things can happen in a game, but this one particular play is what's keeping UC from an undefeated record. Cole Smith drilled a kick, then it was ruled no good because the refs didn't think ESPN was back from commercial. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/E2S68YwWQu
— Jed DeMuesy (@Local12Jed) November 12, 2018
When Smith lined up again, he missed wide right. He ended the night just 1-4 on field goal attempts.
Now, granted, this didn’t happen in the waning moments of the game and there was a whole second half left to play where anything could happen. But I’d imagine that this will likely forever be one of those “What if” moments for Luke Fickell as he looks back on that game against Geoff Collins and Temple.
Temple would go on to win 24-17 after scoring first and then intercepting a Cincinnati pass in overtime.
Instead, the reality we live in pits a 9-1 Cincinnati against a UCF squad enjoying a 23 game win streak – which really is not a bad alternative. Cincinnati has proven they can handle close games – like 34-30 win one Ohio and 26-20 win over SMU – as well as flexing their muscle in wins like 42-0 over Navy and 26-17 over UCLA.
Think about all the extra attention that the Bearcats would be getting, and Fickell’s name would in turn be getting in the coaching carousel (especially for some of these early openings) if that field goal had counted and Cincinnati went on to win that one, along with their remaining games at least leading up to this one with UCF. The hype surrounding the game would be at a fever-pitch as far as non-Power 5 games go.
For those that enjoy a recap, here’s highlights of that whole Cinci vs. UCF game.