The Bearcat got arrested at a game in 2010. It’s not directly related to this post, but it kinda seems fiitting.
By now, the secret is out. The Bearcats have been downright putrid in the second half of AAC games, and everyone knows it.
These stats are insane, particularly the one about UC losses. If Tuberville is let go in December, you better believe that will be a reason why. A fundamental part of coaching is knowing when and how to make adjustments. The Bearcats have been able to hang strong in the first half of each AAC game this year, but they go into the locker room and do nothing about it. Rather than make corrections to their game plan to gain an edge in the second half, it’s the other team that re-tools and runs Cincinnati off the field in the second half.
If you look at UC’s 1–4 AAC record, it comes as no surprise that 17 of those 23 second half points came in a single game. It just so happens that game was the only AAC game where UC outscored the opponent after halftime, and thusly, the only game the Bearcats won. This is how you end up with the garish 81–6 second half scoring figure in AAC losses.
Needless to say, this season’s second half numbers seem historically bad. I sat down to compare them to past UC teams and some other teams in the country this season.
If you’re looking at the full season, the Bearcats currently rank 123rd out of 128 teams in second half scoring. However, for this exercise, I’ll be focusing on conference games only. [Note: The stats below do not include overtime points, only third and fourth quarter.]
There are the second half numbers for this year’s team, last year’s team, the undefeated 2009 team, the 2003 season that got Minter fired, the best team in the AAC (Houston), the only winless team in the AAC (Tulane), arguably the worst team in FBS (Bowling Green), arguably the worst team in a major conference (Kansas), and the best team in FBS (Alabama).
A couple things to point out:
- I promise I didn’t plan it this way, but you’ll notice this year’s Bearcats are dead last in points scored (4.6) and points allowed (19.4) in the second half of conferences games.
- Putting up scoreless second halves is bad. Doing it three times in five games is absolutely awful. Minter’s 2003 team did it three times in eight games and he was fired. Florida Atlantic has the worst second half offense in the FBS, and they’ve only been shut out twice in their 0–4 start in C-USA. I can’t wrap my head around a modern Bearcats offense getting blanked in the second half of over half of their conference games.
- That 19.4 points allowed by the defense looks pretty bad, but we should remember that 21 of those points are the direct result of the offense giving up an interceptions for a touchdowns. Houston had two of them and USF had another. If you look at points that were allowed by the defense only, UC has surrendered 76 points, or 15.2 per game. That’s still not great, but it’s better. It also puts us nearly exactly where we were last season, so there’s this: UC’s second half defense is just as bad as 2015, but the offense is scoring two fewer touchdowns. What a mess. It’s incredible we aren’t winless in the AAC.
- While the second half ineptitude is the reason the Bearcats are having a miserable conference schedule in 2016, it’s not always a measure of team success. Last year, Cincinnati finished with a +24 point differential in second halves and outscored their opponents in five of eight conference games. That looks pretty good on paper, but it only translated to a 4–4 AAC record, good for a share of sixth place out of 11 teams.
- The Bearcats are on pace to score 37 total points in the second half of AAC games while allowing 155. That would be a -118 point differential. I can’t imagine this trend continuing in order to reach that finish, but I don’t know anymore. You have to think we’re approaching historic territory, and not the kind UC made during the Brian Kelly tenure.