Know the Big 12 foe: BYU welcomes Cincinnati to Provo for Big 12 home opener

It’s a new era for both the BYU and Cincinnati they prepare to face each other in a week five Big 12 conference showdown Friday night in Provo.

The Bearcats, like BYU, will enter the weekend looking for their first Big 12 win after losing to No. 14 Oklahoma 20-6 at home last Saturday. With both teams looking for their first conference victory, Friday’s matchup has already shown to have massive national appeal.

As both teams make the push for bowl eligibility, a win for either squad could have massive implications. Here’s a guide to better acquaint Cougar fans with their new Big 12 foe.

Road to the Big 12

Most college football fans are aware of Cincinnati’s 2021 Cinderella College Football Playoff run. Less known is the run from 2018 to now that has propelled them to the Power 5 ranks. In a six-year span, the Bearcats have gone 53-11. Their 80.9% win percentage is the sixth-best nationally among FBS Division-I programs. They have finished within the AP Top 25 Rankings four of the past five years. This also includes two top-10 rankings. In the last five NFL drafts, 18 players have been taken by NFL teams, and currently 28 former Bearcats find themselves on NFL active rosters with another seven with practice squad or inured reserve designations.

When it comes to winning cultures Cincinnati is at the top. These players, coaches, and fans are accustomed to it and truly believe that their winning ways will continue in the Big 12. BYU fans should expect an extremely confident team show up at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Solid up front with questions in the secondary

The Cincinnati defense currently ranks 7th in the Big 12 in total defense allowing 336.8 yards per contest, but these numbers do not tell the full story. The Cincinnati front led by the dominant Dontay Corleone has proved to be the strength of this defense. Through four games the Bearcats are only giving up 108 yards rushing. Even more impressive is the fact they have forced 7 fumbles and recovered 4. They are third in the Big 12 with 12 sacks through 4 weeks, and an impressive 26 tackles for loss. Facing a BYU rushing offense that has struggled to establish the run should give this defense a large amount of confidence.

The secondary on the other hand has shown to have its deficiencies. The Bearcats secondary has ranked 10th in the conference against the pass at this point in the season. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown for an average of 228.8 yards per game while allowing a conference worst 8 touchdown passes to only 3 interceptions. Facing an experienced quarterback in Kedon Slovis could create massive issues for this secondary.

Up and Down Offense

Cincinnati fans were extremely encouraged as they watched there team start the season 2-0 while averaging 519 yards per game. However, after falling to the MAC conference Miami of Ohio and powerhouse Oklahoma in weeks 3 and 4 concerns have arisen. Quarterback Emory Jones has shown flashes of brilliance throwing for 970 yards and 7 touchdowns through 4 weeks. However, he has not recorded a touchdown pass since week 2 and has thrown 5 interceptions since Cincinnati’s 66-13 drubbing of Eastern Kentucky. As a dynamic duel threat quarterback Jones has rushed for 186 yards with 3 touchdowns, but the Bearcat offensive line has given up 9 sacks on the year.

The Cincinnati rushing attack has shown to be incredibly efficient this season. They rank 3rd in the Big 12 averaging 214.8 yards per game and 4.77 yards per carry. Through 4 weeks three different Bearcat players have achieved 100 yard rushing performances with Corey Kiner, Ryan Montgomery, and the dynamic Emory Jones.

Last week against the Sooners Cincinnati was unable to find the endzone. The Bearcats currently are ranked 107th nationally in redzone scoring, and their inability to score touchdowns has been a massive part of their 2 game losing streak. Facing a hostile Lavell Edwards crowd could put the Cincinnati offense in a difficult position, especially when facing a raucous ROC section.

Final thoughts

I expect an all-time LaVell Edwards Stadium atmosphere on Friday night. Cincinnati has the designation of being BYU’s first Big 12 home opponent and this fanbase has been waiting for a moment like this for decades. The Cougars hold a 2-0 series advantage over the Bearcats, but this is a program that has been revitalized by an influx of talent and an unprecedented amount of success in recent years. Friday will be a heavyweight brawl between two newcomers with much to prove. On a night historic night in Provo, Cincinnati hopes to play spoiler on what BYU fans have been looking forward to for years.

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