Game preview: No. 21/19 Cincinnati goes to SMU

Zach Stipe

Assistant AD / Communications

CINCINNATI – The No. 21/19-ranked Cincinnati football team returned to practice this week after the break in preparation for a trip to Dallas, Texas to face SMU on Saturday.

The Bearcats (5-1) take on the Mustangs (3-3) at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN), and a UC win would mark their 19e directly against American Athletic Conference opponents to tie the league record with UCF (2017-19).

SMU snapped a three-game losing streak with a 40-34 win over Navy last Friday. The Mustangs rank fourth in the nation in passing offense (351.8) behind quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who has 15 touchdowns.

Cincinnati is 4-1 after a bye in the Luc Fickel era, including last year’s massive 24-13 victory at No. 8 Notre Dame.

The victory was one of the most memorable of Luc Fickel53 wins in nearly six seasons at the helm of the Bearcats. He is currently tied with Rick Minter for the most wins in UC history. He could take the top spot as the Bearcats’ winningest coach on Saturday.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

Cincinnati takes on SMU at 11 a.m. CT/12 p.m. ET Saturday at Ford Stadium in Dallas. The match will be televised live on ESPN with Mark Jones (play-by-play), Robert Griffin III (analyst) and Quint Kessenich (sideline) on the call.

On radio, Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Jim Kelly, Jr. (analyst) are on call for the Bearcats Sports Network. The game will air on 700 WLW.

FICKELL, TUCKER, VAN FOSSEN MUSTANGS PREVIEW

Cincinnati head coach Luc Fickelsenior wide receiver Tre Tucker and senior linebacker Ty Van Fossen recap of the bye week and SMU preview at Tuesday’s weekly press conference.

Van Fossen is coming off a career-best 16 tackles in the 28-24 win over USF two weeks ago, while Tucker leads the Bearcats with 29 receptions.


A VICTORY WOULD BE….

Build Luc Fickel winningest coach in UC history with 54 wins, breaking a tie at 53 with Rick Minter.

Tie the AAC’s record for consecutive regular season wins (17) and overall wins against AAC opponents (19) with UCF (2017-19).

Give UC six wins and make the Bearcats bowl eligible for the fifth straight season. UC has played in 21 all-time bowls, including consecutive NY6 bowls in 2020 (Peach) and 2021 (CFP Semifinals at Cotton Bowl). UC is 10-11 in bowl games.

MOST WINS IN CINCINNATI HISTORY

recording coach
53-63-1 Rick Minter (10 seasons)
53-16 Luc Fickel (six seasons)

FICKELL AND BEARCATS COLLECT MID-SEASON HONOR

The head coach Luc Fickel was named to the 2022 Dodd Trophy mid-season watch list this week. He won eight National Coach of the Year awards in 2021, including the prestigious Dodd Trophy after leading the Bearcats to a 13-1 record, a college football playoff appearance and a second straight AAC crown.

main linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. was named to the All-America Midseason First Team of nearly every organization, including the Associated Press, ESPN, Athleticismand Pro Football Focus.

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Dontay Corleone was appointed to athleticism Midseason Freshman All-American team, while earning Midseason Honorable Mentions from Pro Football Focus.

 

WHY APPROACHES HISTORY

Senior Redshirt Tight End Josh Whyle has 71 career receptions for 875 yards and 14 touchdowns. His 14 TD catches are tied with former NFL star Brent Celek for the most in Cincinnati history by a tight end.

Celek played for the Bearcats from 2003 to 2006. He had 91 catches for 1,135 yards and 14 scores before going on to an 11-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Other notable recent Cincinnati tight ends:
Travis Kelce (2010-12): 59 receptions, 875 yards, 10 touchdowns
Josiah Deguara (2015-19): 92 receptions, 1,117 yards, 12 TDs

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MATCHUP AT SMU

The Bearcats have won five in a row and are 5-1 overall with a 2-0 record in the AAC after a 28-24 win over USF.

RB by Charles McClelland a career-best 179 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including the 35-yard run in the fourth quarter, led the Bearcats past the Bulls. KG Ty Van Fossen added a career-high 16 tackles, while QB Ben Bryant launched two TDs. Backup QBs Evan Prater entered the game in the fourth quarter, following an injury to Bryant, to lead UC to victory.

UC is 19-10 on the road under head coach Luc Fickel (since 2017), but 9-1 since the start of 2020 with just one loss coming at Arkansas to open the 2022 season. UC last played in the Dallas area for the 2021 CFP Semifinals at the Cotton Bowl.

In UC’s last road game, the Bearcats tied an AAC record with 11 sacks in a 31-21 win at Tulsa.

COMING FROM A BYE

UC got a well-deserved week off after the USF win. UC is 4-1 after a bye week under Fickell.

Last season, Cincinnati had a bye the week before hitting the road to beat No. 8 Notre Dame, 24-13, on Oct. 2, 2021.

BLACKCATS DEFENSE LEADS NATION IN TFLS AND DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS

No defense in the country wreaks more havoc with big plays than the Bearcats.

Cincinnati leads the nation in TFLs per game (9.67) and defensive touchdowns (4), and ranks third in sacks (3.83/game)

The Bearcats’ 11 sacks at Tulsa on Oct. 1 are the most against an FBS team this season and tied the AAC record.

The UC defense is fourth in the nation in yards per play (4.13), sixth in yards per carry (2.84) and No. 19 in total defense (313.2).

RECENT HISTORY AGAINST SMU

The Bearcats have won three straight over the Mustangs and are 3-1 against SMU on aggregate in the Luc Fickel time.

In 2021, QB Desmond Cavalier celebrated senior day against the Mustangs by throwing three touchdowns, rushing to score and catching a touchdown in a 48-14 win at Nippert Stadium. Ridder threw a 53-yard TD pass to Tyler Scott on UC’s first offensive play, while Wilson Huber blocked a punt and Evan Prater led a late TD drive as UC led 48-0 with 11 minutes remaining.

Last time in Dallas: Ridder rushed for three touchdowns, including 91 yards, and opened the game with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Whyle in a 42-13 victory in 2020.

UC lost in overtime to SMU (31-28) in Cincinnati in 2017 before earning a 26-20 overtime win at Dallas in 2018.

THE MUSTANGS OFFENSE AMONG THE NATION’S BEST

SMU snapped a three-game losing streak with a 40-34 win over Navy on Friday night in Dallas. The Mustangs gave up 372 yards rushing to the contenders, but QB Tanner Mordecai had 410 yards and four scores.

SMU passes for 351.8 ypg (#4 nationally) and an average of 490.3 ypg overall (#15). Mordecai leads the AAC in passing (336.0) and his 15 passing touchdowns are tied with UC Ben Bryant for the second most in the league.

SEEKING A RECORD AAC WINSTRIK

Cincinnati can tie UCF for the most AAC regular season win streaks (17) and the AAC’s most streak wins overall, including conference championship games (19). ) Saturday at SMU.

UCF won 17 regular season games and 19 AAC total games from 2017-2019. The Knights’ streak was snapped on October 4, 2019 in Cincinnati against the Bearcats.

Cincinnati went undefeated in the AAC in 2020 and 2021 and got off to a 2-0 start in 2022. UC hasn’t lost an AAC game since losing straight to Memphis through the end of 2019.

OF CHANCES AND ENDINGS…

Three UC RBs have rushed for 100 yards in a game this season: Charles McClelland (2x), Corey Kiner and Myles Montgomery.

WR Tyler Scott has six TD receptions to rank second in the AAC and 14th in the nation. He had 10 catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns (all in the first half) against Indiana en route to AAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

P Mason Fletcher ranks seventh in the nation in punt average (45.86). He had a punt on the 1-yard line against USF and was named Ray Guy National Punter of the Week (Week 5) and AAC Special Teams POTW (Week 3) this season.

FIGURES AND NOTES…

Cincinnati football student-athletes for four years have 100% graduation rate under head coach Luc Fickel.

UC has won a league title seven times in the past 14 years and bowled in 12 games in the past 15 years.


Cincinnati is 655-596-50 (.523) all-time.


UC is playing its 135th football season in 2022. The Bearcats program dates back to 1885 and is one of the 10 oldest in FBS.


Cincinnati is ranked No. 21 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the coaches poll. UC has been ranked for three consecutive weeks and has been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for 47 of the past 51 weeks.

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