NEW YORK -- When you think of college football Saturdays, the primary images that come to mind are of sold-out stadiums and parking lots full of face-painted tailgaters. It's easy to forget that for every fan who packs the stadium on a Saturday, there is any number of equally passionate counterparts in another part of the country -- or the world -- living and dying with the pictures coming from a television.
Such is the case here at The Back Page, where the Cincinnati cheering section has grown to about 20. While old classmates (including former Bearcats cheerleaders Jessica and Shadaia) reconnect over wings and beer, they're also shouting with each big play and covering their heads with their hands with every unwanted momentum swing.
This was particularly true late in the first half when Bearcats receiver Dominick Goodman broke free for what looked to be a long touchdown only to get stripped by an Oklahoma defender. A loud round of cheers was quickly followed by a similar, collective groan.
In New York, there are alumni gatherings like this one at sports bars around the city every Saturday for nearly every football-playing school in the country. I've seen hundreds of Ohio State or Florida fans overtake certain establishments.
The Cincinnati group is in its early incarnation -- this is their first-ever planned football event, one that included going around the room and letting everyone introduce themselves -- and Sean Connell is its unquestioned ringleader. He listened to last week's opener against Eastern Kentucky over the Internet, and he seems to know Brian Kelly's play calls before they happen.
"Here's the good news," he told the group just now. "We're only down eight at halftime!"
The bad news: We continue to have satellite reception problems here, and at times the Cincy fans have been relying on play-by-play updates from their friends in other cities. So, the group is about to pack up and head to a different sports bar.
While Oklahoma has controlled most of the game, the Bearcats have made enough big plays to keep the group's hopes up -- enough to make this mass pilgrimage. I'll let you know where we end up.