- Mark Schmetzer Contributing Writer
Miami football veterans can try to describe for RedHawks newcomers the intensity of the rivalry with Cincinnati, but Jared Murphy believes it’s a waste of time.
“It’s something you have to experience,” the fifth-year Miami wide receiver said during Monday’s weekly media session. “You hear the comments, and the whole week before is special, but it’s just something you have to experience.”
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RedHawk freshmen will get their chance on Saturday at 8 p.m. when they and the Bearcats meet at Miami’s Yager Stadium for the 122nd edition of“The Oldest Rivalry West of the Allegheny Mountains.”
To the winner goes the Victory Bell, of which Cincinnati has maintained possession since 2006 during a series-record 11-game winning streak – one the RedHawks would dearly love to snap this year.
“For our seniors, this is their last shot,” said fourth-year Miami coach Chuck Martin, adding that he hears more from fans about winning this game than any other on the schedule – even Ohio. “To them, it means a lot. To Miami football, it means a lot. To Miami’s faithful fans, it means a lot. We all look forward to and cherish this game. It’s a big game for a lot of reasons.”
Martin was among many who relished Monday’s announcement that the two programs had agreed to extend the series through 2029 with three games to be played at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati, five at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium and four after Saturday at Yager Stadium. Miami will be the home team at the next Paul Brown Stadium game in 2018.
“That’s awesome,” Martin said about the extension. “You don’t want to see rivalries go away. That would be bad for college football.”
Murphy, a Fort Wayne, Ind., native unfamiliar with the series until his first direct exposure, remembers well that first one, which also was his first Miami home game at 24,286-seat Yager Stadium in 2013. A crowd of 21,269 was buzzing.
“I learned about the intensity as soon as I stepped on to the field,” he said. “We’d been struggling, but the place was packed. When we came out of the tunnel, I couldn’t believe the environment. I knew what the rivalry meant.”
That gritty game was scoreless until the Bearcats scored a touchdown with four minutes, 55 seconds left on the way to a 14-0 win.
Despite Cincinnati’s winning streak, the RedHawks still are clinging to a 59-55-7 lead in the series that dates back to 1888. For decades, the game was played annually on Thanksgiving at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, and the Bearcats have hosted 90 of the series’ first 121 games. The teams started trading home games in the 1970s, the same decade the dates were moved from the end of the regular season to earlier.
Both teams are 1-1 with wins over Football Championship Subdivision’s Austin Peay. Cincinnati is coming off a 36-14 loss on Saturday at Michigan, then ranked No. 8 and now seventh in the Associated Press Top 25.
Miami rebounded from a frustrating 31-26 season-opening loss at Marshall to pull away on Saturday from the Governors for a 31-10 win.
“We were anxious to see how the kids would react,” Martin said. “They felt like they should’ve and could’ve beat Marshall. That was a pretty good bounceback from an opening day loss.”
The last three games in the Cincinnati-Miami series have been decided by a combined 18 points, but Cincinnati dominated the previous eight games, winning by an average of 27.6 points. Cincinnati won 27-20 last year.
• Miami also announced on Monday that kickoff for the Mid-American Conference opener at Central Michigan on Sept. 23 has been set for 3:30 p.m.