The University of Cincinnati is, with the Oklahoma Sooners, enjoying the longest winning streak of any major college team: 15 games. The opposition for the U.C. Bearcats may not be as tough as it is for the Sooners, but Cincinnati is a driving team of cold efficiency which a year ago led the nation in both offense and defense.
The Bearcats are coached by Sid Gillman, who, after a year as my successor as line coach at West Point, has won 49 games at Cincinnati while losing but 11. His squads are now so respected that the problem is no longer how to win the games. It is how to sign up suitable opponents. Last week, on the way to the seventh victory of the season, Gillman and his boys found a most suitable opponent: the rebounding College of the Pacific Tigers, who lost their first three games, then won the next three against formidable rivals. Watching the game, somehow you always had the feeling that the Tigers' efforts were futile even though Cincinnati did not play its best.
The West Coast eleven, which relies strongly on the passing of Quarterback Billy Jacobs, was handicapped when Jacobs came up for this game with a fractured right thumb. Jacobs nonetheless worked on some beautifully conceived pass patterns, thrown, for the most part, with a halfback set wide as flanker to either side. His favorite target was End A. D. Williams, who averted a C.O.P. shutout with a touchdown catch with just 29 seconds left to play.
Cincinnati played a sound, strong and conservative game. Lucky not to be trailing at halftime, when Jacobs barely overthrew Don Cornell in the flat in the last seconds of the second period, the Bearcats scored both touchdowns in the last half. The first drive went 56 yards in 14 plays. Quarterback Mike Murphy slashed his able backs, Dick Goist, Joe Miller and Jim Niemann "down the gut" and slanted them off tackle through C.O.P.'s tightly packed and stubborn mixture of 7-2-2 and 5-4-2 defenses. Murphy then sneaked over from the two for the score, Ferd Maccioli converted and the Bearcats led 7-0. Murphy set up the next score too, with a pass interception on his 27. This drive had more imagination but the same result: 14 plays for a TD. Niemann was the main work horse in the sequence, catching one Murphy pass for 17 yards, going off-tackle nicely and finally carrying it over from the three on a straight-ahead quick opener. The last period was only five minutes old, but the outcome of the game was settled and neither the score nor statistics represent U.C.'s true strength.
But enough about the "artists." I'm an old lineman and love to watch the men in the "fighting rows." Gillman's offensive line techniques are beautiful to behold. He has a stocky, senior 200-pound guard named Jack Campbell who does just about everything a guard should. My crystal ball tells me there is also lots of future for Jim Nisby, a C.O.P. sophomore tackle. After the game Gillman moaned over the strain of keeping a winning streak intact. Solid burghers of Cincinnati filled the air over Nippert Stadium with cries of " Gator Bowl!" I believe these fans would fill the Gator Bowl if the Bearcats were invited, but there are still three games to go. I'm going with Cincinnati.