The Cincinnati Bearcats Week 1 match up against Austin Peay alerted the Big East and the rest of the college football world to the Bearcats' potent offense.
Spearheaded by dual threat quarterback Zach Collaros and senior running back Isaiah Pead, the Bearcats put up 72 points and 387 yards rushing in last week's contest. I don't care who you're playing, those numbers are impressive.
Going into Knoxville on Saturday the Bearcats knew that if they were to pull off the upset, Collaros and company would need to stamp their mark on the game.
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, it's their defense, or lack there of, that's the story in this one.
The Bearcats gave up 405 yards passing en route to a 45-23 shellacking. Cincinnati's front seven failed to put any pressure on sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray, recording zero sacks in the game. Bray was a deadly 34 of 41 in the game, and cut the Cincinnati defense up for 5 total touchdowns.
The Bearcats defense also gave up 124 yards rushing on 34 attempts, bringing the day's total damage to 529 yards of total offense for the Volunteers.
Credit is certainly due to Tennessee's offense for their ruthless efficiency. The Volunteers' coaching staff never took their foot off the gas pedal as they relentlessly exploited Cincinnati's porous underneath zone.
Bearcats head coach Butch Jones did little to counteract Tennessee's short passing game, ultimately paying the price in the end.
The two biggest plays of the game for Cincinnati came early in the first half, when the Bearcats elected to go for not one but two fourth and shorts. The Volunteers defensive front answered the bell as the Bearcats failed to convert both times.
Although Collaros and Pead combined for 400 yards of total offense, they were never able to get into any kind of rhythm as Tennessee dominated the tempo of the game with over 37 minutes of possession.
You could also hold the Bearcats offensive line, who failed to provide pushes in key situations, responsible for some of the defensive damage. The offense's inability to sustain long drives in the first half ultimately resulted in a fatigued Cincinnati defense, something that Tennessee exploited to the fullest.
It's back to the drawing board for Butch Jones and defensive coordinator Mike Bajakaian, who have a lot of work to do if the Bearcats are going to improve off last season's 4-8 record.
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