Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville Looks to Stay Perfect Against Urban Meyer

By Michael Citro on July 24, 2014 at 2:50p
DID YOU KNOW: Tommy Tuberville is 2-0 against Urban Meyer.

Urban Meyer has never beaten Tommy Tuberville.

It’s the one scary statistic that jumps out when looking at coaching matchups for the 2014 Buckeye season and seeing a decent Cincinnati team sitting there on Sept. 27.

Tuberville, entering his second season with the Bearcats, leads Meyer’s alma mater into Columbus looking for his third win in as many tries against an Urban-coached team. His previous two wins came in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, when both men coached in the Southeastern Conference. Tuberville’s Auburn Tigers beat Meyer’s Florida Gators 27-17 in 2006 and 20-17 in 2007.

In college football, just like with the stock market, past results are not necessarily an indicator of future success. Still, you have to take note of a coach whose team was 10 points better than Meyer’s national champion Gators, because you still remember how good that team looked one January night in Arizona.

That team dismantled a Buckeye team that looked unstoppable and had beaten the No. 2 team in the country twice.

Auburn was ranked 11th in the country in the 2006 meeting, while Florida was second only to Ohio State. The Tigers held Chris Leak, Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow and the rest of the Gator offense scoreless in the second half of that game. Auburn’s offense was nothing to write home about, but Tuberville’s team, coming off a 27-10 home loss to Arkansas the week before, found a way to win by scoring on a fumble return and a blocked punt and kicking four field goals.

The next year, Tuberville’s Tigers did it again.

We can haz Tuberville facepalm Sept. 27?
For once, Meyer would like to make Tuberville facepalm.

An unranked team that had already lost to South Florida and Mississippi State at home visited Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to face an undefeated No. 4 Florida squad bent on revenge for its only blemish the previous year. But instead, short touchdown runs by Kodi Burns and Ben Tate put Auburn ahead 14-0 at the half on the road in Gainesville.

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter before Florida mounted a comeback. Tim Tebow’s six-yard scoring pass to Cornelius Ingram pulled the Gators within 17-10 early in the fourth quarter. Seven minutes later, Tebow ran for a two-yard score, capping an 89-yard drive and tying the game at 17. Tuberville’s bunch got the last laugh though, on a Wes Byrum 43-yard field goal as time expired.

Tuberville was 2-0 against Meyer. Both wins were upsets.

Now he’s at Cincinnati, where he led the Bearcats to a 9-4 record (6-2 in AAC play) last season and an appearance in the Belk Bowl. Tuberville was also 2-1 a year ago against teams currently in the Big Ten. The Bearcats lost 45-17 against Illinois, but destroyed Purdue and Rutgers by a combined score of 94-24.

Is a third upset win over Meyer on the horizon?

Three things: the case for Tuberville

1. The Buckeyes may be replacing four starters on the offensive line, manchild running back Carlos Hyde and the beastly Ryan Shazier on defense and others, but even so, they’re not exactly Illinois, Purdue or Rutgers in the personnel department. Still, there will be inexperience on the field in key positions, including wide receiver and in the defensive backfield.

I’m not sure it’s cause for concern, but it’s out there.

2. Ohio State has a bye the week before facing Cincinnati. But bye weeks haven’t always been a friend to Buckeye football. Jim Tressel’s teams seemed sluggish after an off week. Meyer has had two seasons in Columbus and that trend hasn’t changed a lot.

In 2013, Ohio State struggled against Iowa after one bye week and allowed a mostly dormant Illinois team to score 35 points after the open date. Meyer’s bunch needed overtime to beat a good Wisconsin team on the road after a bye week in 2012. Although 3-0 after a week off under Meyer, the Buckeyes haven’t looked too convincing in those games.

3. Cincinnati’s kids will show up with a lot to prove, because that’s what in-state colleges do against Ohio State. The Buckeyes cannot take the Bearcats lightly because their Ohio kids grew up playing against Ohio State’s homegrown athletes. There will be no fear. And a team without fear plays more confidently and aggressively. They will want this game as a feather in their cap and as a signature win for their program. They may, in fact, play so far over their heads that their noses bleed for a week to 10 days.*

*h/t to the classic Bill Murray comedy Meatballs

Three things: the case for Meyer

1. Meyer’s team will be battle tested by then. With a sneaky-good opening road opponent in Navy and a very formidable (especially on defense) Virginia Tech team in the season’s first two weeks, the Buckeyes will have a chance to work out the kinks in their young players. Miller should have a rapport with his receivers, a primary running back will have emerged, and the secondary should be settled in. This team has talent everywhere and should be able to outclass the Bearcats if it avoids stupid penalties and turnovers.

2. It’s a night game at Ohio State. The atmosphere will be insane, as it usually is for evening affairs. The crowd’s energy should feed the Buckeyes and keep them from slipping into lethargy. It’s generally taken the biggest of opponents (i.e. USC, Vince Young’s Texas Longhorns) to overcome Ohio Stadium at night. Cincinnati is a good team with a lot of potential, but it is not USC or Young’s Longhorns. The worst Buckeye team in recent memory beat Russell Wilson’s Badgers at home in a night game. So…yeah.

3. The traditional Eleven Warriors pre-game banger is slated for the day of the UC game. Previously known as Eat Too, Brutus, this annual tailgate/fundraiser has never known an Ohio State defeat (4-0). The Buckeyes beat Miami (FL), Wisconsin, Nebraska and Wisconsin again during the previous 11W tailgate games. Despite the name change to Eleven Dubgate, we got this, right?


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GoBucks713's picture

Eat Too, Brutus is Dead. Long Live Eat Too, Brutus.

-The Aristocrats!

+3 HS
Buckeye Knight's picture

Urban Meyer has never beaten Tommy Tuberville.

+5 HS
BierStube's picture

This will change soon!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+8 HS
rock flag and eagle's picture

Auburn’s offense was nothing to write home about

Al Borges was the Auburn OC in 06-07.  He is not good at coaching football.  That's goes to show you.  Tuberville beat Meyer in a distance swim, despite having a cinder block tethered to his ankle. 

Tuberville is a very good defensive coach.  And, his defense certainly shutdown Meyer's offense twice (unless you want to give credit to Auburn's Defensive Coordinator, Will Muschamp.  But, I doubt any 11w reader will want to give Muschamp credit for those wins.)  So, let's just assume Tuberville is the defensive mastermind.  The year before he arrived in Cincy, they were ranked 55th in total defense.  In Tuberville's first season, they were ranked 9th nationally in total D. 

Unfortunately for Tuberville, he is now at a mid-major with mid-major level talent.  I suspect the best odds anyone could give him will be "Closer than the experts think."

+4 HS
logamaniac's picture

why not?  muschamp is a great defensive coordinator.  he hasn't shown he can be a head coach but that doesn't detract from his accolades as a DC

+2 HS
apack614's picture

We're going to kill them.. No doubt, uhhhh wait umm I think we will, wait a sec uhhh I hope we do haha.. Regardless going to be a great game!!! Go Bucks!!

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I'm by no means looking past the Bearcats or Tuberville, but I really want UFM and Ohio State to make a statement in this game.

+3 HS
ChimdiCheckyaselfbeforeyawreckyaself's picture

Agreed - although our non-conference schedule is stronger than last year, all it takes is one "closer than the experts think" to get the ESPN/Media "OSU is overrated / Big 10 sucks" talk rolling even more than it will be entering the season

A little is better than nada, sometimes you want the whole enchilada

+2 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

and every. other. one.

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+1 HS
Ashtabula's picture

This game will be my 8 year old son's first trip to the Shoe. He'll bring the juice!

+3 HS
TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Like I've said for awhile, two things scare the hell out of me about this game: 1. Gunner Kiel is a QB with a cannon that can stretch the field, and that will cause problems if our secondary has not made significant improvement.... and 2. Tuberville is a defensive-minded coach that is familiar with Meyer's offense and has succeeded in shutting it down - twice.

Obviously, we have a huge advantage in talent, and much more experience at QB. I think the Bearcats keep it close heading into the 4th, and then we pull away to win 38-27. But I think we could very easily be a special teams play and key turnover away from an upset. Need to minimize the mistakes, pound the ball if we get up by a lot early, and get out with a win. Because if we lose to Cincinnati, everything changes. EVERYTHING.

+1 HS
logamaniac's picture

this will be a blowout

+1 HS
CTBuckeye's picture

Maybe it's overconfidence after his first two seasons, but I think Urban will have his team prepared for this matchup, and won't have that much difficulty.  It's the 4th game of the season, which should mean the secondary will be much more comfortable with each other.  Ash is putting in place what sounds like a pretty aggressive mentality and Bosa, Spence, and the rest of the defense should keep Kiel scrambling.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

+1 HS
logamaniac's picture

kiel's cannon arm won't be able to fire on target while he's running for his life

+1 HS
rosenbuck's picture

I don't see UC putting up 27 at night in the Shoe, Kiel should be on his backside too often for that.

avail31678's picture

My first night game.  And now I see it's the same day as the Eleven Dubgate???  I may just have to go to my first 11W tailgate party.  Getting more and more excited.

+1 HS
Hockey Buck's picture

Has anyone brought up UC's fine showing at Illinois last year?

-1 HS
Michael Citro's picture

You mean like this:

The Bearcats lost 45-17 against Illinois, but destroyed Purdue and Rutgers by a combined score of 94-24.

Crumb's picture

I think the night game will be too much for UC. The Horseshoe is a special kind of insane at night. The crowd was awesome last year in a 63-14 route of PSU, and the worst team I've see OSU field in my lifetime upset a Super Bowl winning QB at night. The crowd will be huge.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

northcampus's picture

What wasn't mentioned are that UC's biggest weaknesses coming into 2014 are offensive line (very thin and inexperienced) and defensive line (very inexperienced), which should really show often and early in this game.  While OSU also has some fresh faces on the offensive side of the line, the OSU defensive line is arguably the strongest DL in America and unless UC plays out of their minds, the OSU DL should really limit UC's offensive output in this game.  While UC does have a great group of receivers coming back (and OSU struggled in pass D last year), I think the pressure on Kiel will be too much for him to get into a groove when it comes to passing the ball.

For those placing wagers on this game, I'd be much more interested in taking UC for the first half than I would for the second half.  I think OSU wins this game by at least 25 points.  Yeah, UC will be up for this game, but a lot of Cincinnati people (specifically OSU targets) will be watching or attending this game and OSU is going to put on a show for those kids.  This isn't going to be a classic Tresselball game against the Ohio school that is much too uncomfortable for the home crowd for much too long.

Also, Gunner Kiel is a big name going into this game to throw around, but I'm just as interested in seeing how former 5-star recruit Jeff Luc (who OSU (and every other school in America) recruited out of HS) plays in this game.

nbshelton729's picture

The UC Offensive line is actually a huge strength of the team.  Lots of returning talent.  Was suppose to be a top 5 offensive line last year, but was plagued by injuries.  Assuming everyone is healthy at the beginning of the season, it will be one of the strengths (not deep though).  Even so, OSU's d-Line is probably the best in the country as you mentioned and will probably be the key factor in the game.

Jeff Luc wasn't as successful last year as UC wanted him to be, but he was playing outside backer, while his natural position is inside.  He should have a better year this time around.

I'm a UC fan and of course I hope for a win, but I think the opening 21 point spread is pretty accurate.  Maybe down to 14 if OSU's d-backs don't improve.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Isn't Muchie Legaux the QB for UC? Maybe they are moving him to WR. He's 6'5 and has decent speed. I didn't know Kiel was the starter.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

rosenbuck's picture

I think a UC DV'er drove through this way, anyone see 'em?

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

, but destroyed Purdue

As did 10 other teams...

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

Does anyone know when tickets for the dubgate go on sale? My wife and I will be making the trip from South Dakota to Columbus for the UC game and catching the dubgate would be the icing on the cake. That along with a resounding win over the bearcats that is. And oh boy I hope Andy Katzenmoyer will be there again. He's been my hero since fifth grade. 


Michael Citro's picture

Stay tuned. Details are being finalized.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Auburn =/= Cincinnati

Buckloving's picture

Might be a good day to place a bet.........Not that I'm advocating gambling


Seattle Linga's picture

Urban will dominate TT this year

nbshelton729's picture

I grew up in Columbus as the biggest OSU fan possible, but then decided to go to Cincinnati for college where I just graduated.  I think its very important for an individual to cheer for and support their alma mater no matter where they go, so this will be an interesting game for me.  Went to many OSU games as a Buckeye fan, but this will be my first time in the shoe wearing red and black while cheering against the Buckeyes.  Of course OSU should win the game, and I think the 21 point opening spread is pretty accurate, but it could get close if OSU's d-backs don't improve over last year.  UC's biggest strengths on offense are OL and WR, so OSU's DL will be the deciding factor.  Its probably the best DL in the country and if they can keep the pressure on Kiel, he will be a non-factor.  Kiel did throw for 300 yds on 17-22 with 3 offensive TDs in just the first half of the UC spring game, so he has shown great talent.

Either way, it will be a fun game to go to.  Personally hoping for a UC win, but it will probably be between a 14-21 point game (maybe more).

By the way, why all the animosity towards UC?  They don't have the football history of OSU and never will, but I think its great to have 2 solid programs in the state and its something to be proud of.  Why not embrace it?  UC will never be as nationally relevant, but its good for the state.  I'm not saying all of you should be cheering for UC every weekend, but no need to put them down for having a good 6-7 years of success and being proud of it.

bigtenspeed's picture

I didn't see a lot of animosity in the comments.