Fomer top recruit Gunner Kiel threw six touchdowns in his college debut Friday night in a 58-34 win over Toledo.
Four of Kiel's touchdowns came in the first half as Cincinnati blasted off to a 41-14 halftime lead. However, as cramps were affecting Kiel in the third quarter, Toledo scored 17 points in the period to help pull to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Freshly hydrated, Kiel made sure the deficit didn't get any smaller. After returning from the locker room for fluids, Kiel quickly led Cincinnati on a drive that culminated with his fifth touchdown and a 48-34 lead. Toledo's chances for a win were over.
However, those chances might have been over before that. With the score 41-31, Toledo had an incredible opportunity to make it 41-38 on a jet sweep pass from WR Dwight Macon to QB Logan Woodside, who was open and had a sure touchdown. However, Woodside juggled the ball as he headed towards the end zone and Cincy defenders converged on him and it hit the turft. Toledo had to settle for a field goal.
Kiel was the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2012 according to Rivals. After originally committing to Indiana and then LSU, he signed with Notre Dame and spent his freshman season with the Irish as a redshirt. He transferred to Cincinnati in the spring of 2013 and sat out last season.
Throughout Friday's game, you could tell Kiel was a top recruit. He made confident and accurate throws and Cincinnati wasted no time getting Kiel acclimated to his first game. The first play was a 52-yard deep post to Mekale McKay.
In addition to the six touchdowns, the most touchdown passes ever in an FBS QB's debut game, Kiel finished 25-37 for 418 yards against a Toledo pass defense that was shredded for the second striaght week. Last week, Missouri's Maty Mauk threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns against Toledo.
Perhaps it was first game issues – remember, Cincinnati had two open dates to start the season – but Toledo racked up 563 yards of offense including 240 yards rushing. Kiel certainly looks like an American Athletic Conference-winning quarterback. However, Cincinnati's ability to live up to its status as the league favorite may hinge more on its defense than on Kiel's excellence. Asking your QB, even if he's a former five star recruit, to save you from almost blowing a lead every week is a risky proposition.
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