The Central Florida Knights (0-8, 0-4) will travel up the east coast in search of their first win as they take on the Cincinnati Bearcats (4-3, 1-2) in an American Athletic Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in their history.
Central Florida remained winless as they were dumped 59-10 at home by #21 Houston last week. Cincinnati continued their season long pattern of alternating wins and losses by routing Connecticut 37-13 at home. This game kicks off from Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio at 12:00 pm ET and will be televised on ESPNEWS. Cincinnati is currently a 27 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 60 points.
Central Florida held a 10-7 advantage over the Cougars and then things went sour as Houston reeled off the last 52 points in the game. The Knights allowed 17 points in the final 2:27 of the half to turn that 10-7 lead into a 24-10 deficit. Central Florida was outgained 600-280, lost the first down battle 30-14 and committed four turnovers while failing to record a takeaway. The Knights allowed a touchdown on a fumble return and set up Houston with two turnovers in the final two minutes of the half to give the Cougars 10 more points. On top of that, head coach George O’Leary abruptly retired so Danny Barrett will take over on an interim basis.
The Knights are 91st in the nation in passing offense (199.4 yards) and dead last in the FBS in rushing offense as they muster up a weak 58.3 yards per contest. Central Florida is scoring only 15 points a game and they stand 102nd in scoring defense by allowing an average of 33.4 points per game. Four quarterbacks have seen action for Central Florida already: Bo Schneider (54 of 102, 534 yards, 2 TD, 7 INT) saw the most reps with Justin Holman (74 of 144, 759 yards, 4 TD, 8 INT) out; he recently returned from injury. Tyler Harris (24 of 49, 287 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT) and Nick Patti (3 of 5, 15 yards, 70 rushing yards, two TD, 12 catches, 94 yards, TD) are in the mix as well. The run game has been dismal as Central Florida averages 2.1 yards per carry with two scores; their longest run is 23 yards. Taj McGowan is the team’s second leading rusher with 50 carries for 130 yards while C.J. Jones has 47 carries for a team high 151 yards. Tre’Quan Smith leads the team with 29 grabs for 382 yards and two scores as a freshman while Jordan Akins chips in 14 grabs for 152 yards and two scores; Chris Johnson (14 catches, 187 yards) and Jordan Franks (13 grabs, 159 yards, TD) are in the mix as well. Matthew Wright has hit all 13 extra points and nine of 11 field goals this season.
Cincinnati welcomed Gunner Kiel back as the starter at quarterback for the first time in a month and it paid dividends in the win over Connecticut. The Bearcats trounced the Huskies in total yards by a 612-268 margin and Cincinnati forced two turnovers while committing only one of their own. Cincinnati finished with 28 first downs while allowing Connecticut to pick up 19 and they held the ball for 32:38 to the Huskies’ 27:22 in the victory.
The Bearcats are 8th in the nation in passing offense as they average 353.7 yards per game and 34th in rushing offense by putting up 201.9 yards per game. Cincinnati is tied for 26th in scoring offense by putting up 34 points per game and tied for 86th in scoring defense as they allow 29.1 points per contest. The Bearcats have seen their reps at quarterback split pretty evenly as freshman Hayden Moore is 83 of 144 throwing the ball for 1,280 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions while running for 45 yards and two scores. Kiel has hit 96 of 146 passes for 1,195 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Tion Green is the Bearcats’ second leading rusher in the ground game with 99 carries for 484 yards and four scores; Hosey Williams (88 carries, 520 yards, 3 TD) and Mike Boone (45 carries, 390 yards, 4 TD) doing their part in the ground game as well. Shaq Washington is the team’s leading receiver with 47 catches for 573 yards and two scores; Max Morrison (30 catches, 404 yards, 2 TD) and Alex Chisum (23 receptions, 273 yards, TD) are other targets in the passing game as well. Andrew Gantz has booted all 28 extra points and 16 of 20 field goals with a long of 51 yards.
Cincinnati is 5-0 ATS in their last five against teams with a losing record, 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 conference games, 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight after an ATS win, 5-1 ATS in their last six in October and 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a straight up win of at least 20 points. Central Florida is 1-5 ATS in their last six after an ATS loss, 1-6 ATS in their last seven after a straight up loss, 1-8 ATS in their last nine after a straight up loss by at least 20 points, 1-8 ATS in their last nine overall and 0-4 ATS in their last four on fieldturf.
The Knights have struggled all season and now have an interim coach with O’Leary stepping down from both his athletic director role and as head coach in the past couple weeks. Cincinnati seemed reenergized after getting Kiel back last week and they should be able to build off that momentum in this contest. Look for the Bearcats to win this one rather convincingly to get their fifth win of the year.