The Other Sideline is a weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from Indiana football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Indiana football bounced back from a week one loss with a resounding 56-14 victory over the University of Idaho in Bloomington last week. Indiana is back to taking on ranked teams this week and is preparing for a matchup against the No. 8 ranked University of Cincinnati.
The Bearcats are 2-0 and are coming to Bloomington for the first time since 2000. The Hoosiers have won the last five matchups between the schools.
Ahead of the game, the Indiana Daily Student talked to Owen Racer, the sports editor of the News Record to preview what the matchup may look like.
IDS: It’s been hard to judge what kind of team Indiana is so far, how is Cincinnati taking them?
Racer: It’s pretty much week by week, no matter what question gets thrown at the team or the coaches, it’s who’s on the agenda that week. The focus has only been on Indiana since Sunday.
Cincinnati views Indiana as a legitimate team and they know it’s a big deal. Whether they say it or not, this can prove a lot. This type of game doesn’t come around every year.
There’s a lot at stake for both sides and I think everyone involved knows that.
IDS: What are Cincinnati's strengths?
Racer: What gets pointed out in the media is the stars — quarterback Desmond Ridder, defensive end Myjai Sanders, cornerback Ahmad Gardner — but when you look into it and you watch the practice, you realize there’s something a lot deeper. It comes from head coach Luke Fickell.
What he’s instilled in his four years, he’s made the program. The strengths are the way the team works together. Some of the biggest stars haven’t even shown up yet. They’ve been lighting up the scoreboard without hitting the top two receivers.
All three phases of the game are coming together at the same time. Stereotypically, Cincinnati has been good at defense. With Ridder at the helm, you’ve seen the offense pick up the slack and now it’s all three phases of the game coming together at once.
IDS: For Indiana to beat Cincinnati, what do they have to do?
Racer: Defensively, they have to contain Ridder. He’s such a dual threat athlete. You don’t stop him in the air and on the ground, there’s too many weapons outside of Ridder to be had if you can’t contain him.
Offensively, it’s going to be running the ball. Cincinnati’s secondary is solid and I think everybody knows that. It’s gonna be finding a way to flip that narrative and light up the passing game or just grind the ball on the ground.
The D-line is no joke, the linebackers are no joke, but I think that secondary’s hard to mess with so I think it’s going to be figuring out a way to play smash-mouth, run the ball all game, or find a way teams haven’t been able to in these last two, three years to throw the ball.
IDS: Last thing. What’s your score prediction?
Racer: Bearcats 27, Hoosiers 14.