No.5/6 UC Bearcats Football Returns Home for Friday Night AAC Opener versus improved Temple Owls

October 05, 2021

CINCINNATI — Fresh off a historic, statement win for the No. 5/6 Cincinnati football team, the Bearcats return to action Friday night for their AAC opener when they host Temple at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

This “Nippert at Night” matchup follows back-to-back road victories by double digits for UC over No. 9 Notre Dame (24-13) and Indiana (38-24), which has hoisted the Bearcats into the discussion as one of the nation’s top teams. 

Senior quarterback Desmond Ridder led Cincinnati past the Fighting Irish on Saturday for the program’s first-ever win over a top-10 opponent on the road. The Bearcats snapped the Irish’s 26-game home win streak, putting them now second behind only Clemson (31) for the national lead with 22 straight home victories. 

Ridder finished with 323 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns en route to National Quarterback of the Week honors from the Davey O’Brien Award as well as his sixth career AAC Offensive Player of the Week award of his career.

Cincinnati was named the Cheez-It Bowl National Team of the Week by the FWAA following the performance.

Temple (3-2) is coming off a 34-31 victory over Memphis. The Bearcats edged past the Owls, 15-13, in the last matchup between the teams in 2019. 

WATCH: Head Coach Luke Fickell and Desmond Ridder Press Conference

Game Notes Link

5/6 CINCINNATI BEARCATS
Head Coach Luke Fickell
Record at Cincinnati 39-14 (Fifth Year)
Overall Record 45-21 (Sixth Year)

TEMPLE OWLS
Head Coach Rod Carey
Record at School 12-13 (Third Year)
Overall Record 64-43 (Eighth Year)

GAME INFORMATION
Facility Nippert Stadium
Capacity 40,000
TV ESPN
Radio 700 WLW AM / Sirius 81 / XM 81 / Internet 970
Online SiriusXM Internet Channel 970
Series Record Temple leads 13-8-1
Neutral Site 0-0
Last Meeting Nov. 23, 2019 (Cincinnati won 15-13)

TV:ESPN
• Play-by-Play Clay Matvick
• Analyst Rocky Boiman
• Sideline Tiffany Blackman
• Online: ESPN Mobile App: WatchESPN

RADIO:BEARCATS SPORTS NETWORK
• Play-by-Play Dan Hoard
• Analyst Jim Kelly Jr.
• Host/Engineer Mo Egger
• Local: 700 WLW AM
• Satellite: Sirius 81 / XM 81 / Internet 970
• App: The Varsity Network: “Search Cincinnati”

LIVE STATS:Cincinnati.StatBroadcast.com

WEAR BLACK … AND YOUR SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT 
Fans are encouraged to wear black … and their sunglasses to the game on Friday night. The first 2,000 students will receive free sunglasses upon arrival to the game. 

GAMEDAY IMPROVEMENTS TAKE EFFECT THIS FRIDAY
Read more about the additional improvements Cincinnati Athletics has implemented to enhance the fan experience on game days at and around Nippert Stadium for this season’s remaining home games HEREImprovements include the Bearcats Fast Pass, which will allow fans to scan their tickets prior to opening and obtain a wristband for “fast pass” entry at designated gates. The perimeter at Nippert Stadium will also be extended to alleviate concourse congestion and gate entry times, and also allow for additional pre-game opportunities for fans. 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Bearcats are 35-6 (.854) since 2018, a top-five mark in the country. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner’s opening-drive interception versus Notre Dame, his eighth as a Bearcat, helped UC bolster its national-best red-zone defense (46.2 %). While teams are avoiding the All-American Gardner in coverage, Coby Bryant (3 PBUs at Notre Dame) and Arquon Bush now rank fifth and 10th nationally for passes defended. The Bearcats are also second in defensive pass efficiency (85.30) and eighth in scoring defense (14.5). Cincinnati has proven to be balanced, too, ranking No. 17 in scoring offense (38.3). The Bearcats are one of only five teams to rank in the Top 20 in scoring offense and scoring defense, joining Georgia, Michigan, Auburn and Coastal Carolina.

THE COACHES
Luke Fickell, a two-time AAC Coach of the Year, is in his fifth season at UC. He has led Cincinnati to back-to-back 11-win campaigns (2018-2019) and an undefeated regular season in 2020, which was capped by an AAC championship and an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – the program’s first New Year’s Six game since 2009. His impressive resume includes being on the staff of two national-championship winning teams at his alma mater, Ohio State (2002 and 2014), seeing more than 40 of his players selected in the NFL Draft – including 14 first-rounders and coordinating outstanding defenses over 12 seasons.

Rod Carey is in his third season at the helm after a successful six-year run at Northern Illinois, where also coached the Huskies in the 2013 Orange Bowl. Despite a 1-6 season amidst COVID in 2020, he guided the Owls to a wins over No. 21 Maryland, No. 23 Memphis and Georgia Tech in 2019.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

  • Cincinnati is off to its third 4-0 start of Luke Fickell‘s five seasons at the helm.
  • In addition to its perfect 2020 regular season, it also started 6-0 in 2018 and reeled off nine wins in a row after a Week 2 loss in 2019.
  • Not only that, UC’s 20-3 record (.870) win percentage in league play over the past three years is the highest mark in the AAC.

INSIDE THE RANKINGS

  • Cincinnati earned its first ever win over a Top-10 team on the road with its 24-13 victory at No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday.
  • Since the start of 2020, UC is 4-1 against ranked opponents.
  • The Bearcats’ highest-ranked win to date was over No. 7 Rutgers (30-11) in 2006, with its highest on the road coming at No. 9 Notre Dame last week (besting 2009 at No. 14 Pitt). The squad’s other top-10 win came in 1999 against No. 9 and eventual Rose Bowl champion Wisconsin.
  • Fickell is 5-8 against ranked foes at UC, including a 3-1 mark in 2020 (Army, SMU and Tulsa), while also defeating UCF in 2019.

GAME TIME UPDATES
Cincinnati will welcome UCF for a 12 p.m. ET (ABC) contest on Oct. 16.

The AAC office also announced that Cincinnati’s regular season finale at East Carolina has been moved to Friday, Nov. 26 as the conference’s “Black Friday” game. The game will air at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC or ESPN OR 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The finale at East Carolina was originally scheduled for Nov. 27.

Buy tickets for remaining home games HERE.

COURTESY UC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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