Originally Published: Sep 25, 2010 9:33 AM CDT
I love the Queen City. This is my old stomping grounds.
I grew up in Mustang. My preacher dad was a big Cincinnati Reds fan because of Johnny Bench, and it rubbed off on me. Then when I was in junior high we took a church in New Castle, Indiana...not too awfully far from Cincy. I was in heaven. Every chance we could we would make the short trip to Riverfront Stadium to watch Eric Davis and Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo and Jose Rijo and Rob Dibble and Tom Browning and Joe Oliver and my beloved Reds.
This is the first time Ive been back since I graduated from high school in 1991. Riverfront is gone, replaced by Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium. But the rest of Cincy looks the same. A beautiful place right on the banks of the Ohio River. The most hilly city Ive ever seen. And next to New York City, the best bridges in America. As soon as Im done writing this blog Im going to set out on foot and buy a new Reds hat at the team store at the stadium. Itll be my birthday present to myself.
As for tonights football game...Im as intrigued as everyone else to see how the Sooner react to the road. The aray of possibilities is vast. Cincinnati isnt a great team, but if OU shows up scared...theyll get pummeled tonight. On the other hand, if the Sooners are focused and accept the challenge of a hostile environment...they win handily.
The Cincy defense is similar to the Florida State defense in that they are trying to implement some new schemes from a new defensive coordinator. So far, theyre struggling. Thats good news for OU. We saw what Kevin Wilsons crew did to a confused defense when the Seminoles came to town. And I think the Sooners will be able to put pressure on Bearcats QB Zach Collaros. The Cincy O-line has been a debacle. Theyve allowed 15 sacks this year...most in all of college football.
I saw Jimmy Stevens and his parents in the hotel lobby last night. I congratulated them on their sons success last week, and Mr. Stevens quickly pulled me to the side and asked me why we didnt show more Heritage Hall scores on the Friday Football Blitz when Jimmy was in high school. Ha! Jimmy could be a factor tonight.
Bottom line: I think...I THINK OU will play well. I know theyre the better team. They should get out of here with a two touchdown victory and head to the Cotton Bowl without a blemish. But if theyre one step off or play with any amount of trepidation...theyll get beat.
One more note: Im told to expect 50,000 or so fans tonight at Paul Brown Stadium (seats 65,000). A local Cincy media member told me, however, that attendance could be helped tonight by the fact that the Reds lost last night in San Diego. The Reds magic number is still at three, which means they cant clinch the division tonight. If they had a chance to clinch the division tonight, he theorized that a lot of fans wouldve stayed home to watch that. Its been since 1995 since the Reds were in the playoffs...and this is first and foremost a Reds town.