Cincinnati jumped out to a 24-0 lead just five minutes into the second quarter. It looked like an early blowout but Western Michigan showed resolve scoring 17 unanswered points in the second quarter and then tying the game at 24 points a piece in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos' blitz-crazy defense gave QB Nick Davila fits for the majority of the final three quarters and RB Brandon West diced up the Bearcats defense for 111 yards on the ground. But despite scoring just three points in the game's final 40 minutes, the Bearcats were able to hold on for the win in the inaugural International Bowl. The victory was Brian Kelly's first as head coach of Cincinnati and his second of the season versus Western Michigan. Kelly was hired prior to the bowl game after leading Central Michigan to a MAC title with a 7-1 record in conference, which included a 31-7 win over Western Michigan on Nov. 10.
Davila had a decent showing in just his second career start, throwing for 220 yards with two touchdowns but also two interceptions. The one-two punch of RBs Butler Benton and Greg Moore, which combined for 120 rushing yards, proved to be the biggest difference for Cincinnati down the stretch.
-- Todd McShay