One of the few drawbacks of watching the great game of college football is those times when an athlete is carted off the field and such a scene unfolded on national television when Memphis hosted Cincinnati last night.
A questionable hit (not ruled targeting) resulted in a potential first-round NFL draft choice at quarterback in Gunner Kiel being carted off the field. At first, Kiel was knocked out cold but later regained feeling in extremities and, although he could be out for a while, the long-term prognosis is promising.
Rather than having their season ruined, though, the Bearcats learned a lot about backup Hayden Moore in a 53-46 loss to the unbeaten Tigers (4-0). They learned they can win with him and the fact that he’s a redshirt freshman means the winning will go on for years. The Alabama native is an accounting major and made sure fans needed a calculator to compile his stats last night, throwing for a school-record 557 yards and five touchdowns.
No one expects him to continue with those kinds of numbers, but they are an indication that there is not going to be a huge drop off, if any, between Kiel and Moore and that bodes well for the 2-2 Bearcats to finish strong and get a great bowl bid.
While winning the AAC East now appears to be a longshot, the remaining schedule is favorable. Miami (Fla.) is a home game upcoming on Thursday night and the toughest game after that is a road game at BYU. It is conceivable that the Bearcats run the table or suffer no more than two losses along the way. That probably will not be enough to oust a team like Temple from first place because the Owls have no AAC losses and hold an important tie-breaker against Cincinnati.
Still, 8-to-10 wins along with the marquee bowl tie-ins the AAC has been able to work deals for, means a showcase game at the end of the year, even if Kiel is unable to return. Moore’s performance means the future looks bright for coach Tommy Tuberville’s team.