Cincinnati Football News: Bearcats Kick Off Inaugural Big 12 Conference with visit from No. 16 Sooners

CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati football team welcomes No. 16/14 Oklahoma to Historic Nippert Stadium at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday for the Bearcats’ first-ever Big 12 Conference game.

UC must quickly move on from a tough 31-24 overtime loss to Miami (Ohio) last weekend, which should be easy with a Sooners team that has the nation’s eighth-ranked offense coming to town.

Cincinnati has sold out 14 consecutive home games and FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff pregame show will be live from Bearcats Commons, to the West of the Tangeman University Center (TUC), adding to the revelry and hype surrounding a momentous day in the University of Cincinnati’s history.

For more than a decade, the Bearcats’ administration, fans, donors, coaches and student-athletes worked tirelessly to get Cincinnati to this point and back into a Power 5 conference.

All of that hard work comes to fruition when Oklahoma, a historic “blue blood” college football program, comes to Carson Field this weekend.

Cincinnati and Oklahoma are two of 15 teams ever to play in the College Football Playoff and two of just seven teams to win 50 games from 2018 to 2022.

It’s a historic clash and setting up to be one of the most exciting games in UC history.

“Our fans are incredible, and there was certainly not an empty seat in the whole stadium against Miami (Ohio),” said head coach Scott Satterfield during his weekly Tuesday press conference. “They were into it and it was a great college football scene. We anticipate that again this week with Oklahoma coming to town and our first Big 12 game. I’m very excited about it. Very excited about playing in this league. I was not here for it, but I think about all the people and the hard work that went into getting to the Power Five and getting to the Big 12 conference. All of the past coaches, administrators and presidents…I mean just the hard work that went into it is awesome.

“It’s really neat to be playing at this level and playing in this new league. They are putting us with one of the better teams in this league for the first game in the Big 12 with Oklahoma. They are as hot of team there is out there right now. So, we know we got a huge challenge coming in here, but one that we welcome.”

The Sooners (3-0) are coming off a 66-17 win at Tulsa last weekend and quarterback Dillon Gabriel leads the nation in completion percentage through three games (82.5%).

Oklahoma will be a stiff test for Satterfield and Bryan Brown‘s defense. However, Cincinnati is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 45.5% of their passes and already has amassed 10 sacks this season.

While Oklahoma is eight nationally in total offense (534.0), Cincinnati ranks right behind in 12th (525.3), which should make for an exciting matchup.

The Bearcats already have had three different players rush for 100 yards, too, and rank eighth in the nation with 239.3 rushing yards per game.

Cincinnati rushed for 273 yards and outgained Miami (Ohio) by nearly 200 yards last weekend, but scored on just 5 of 8 red zone trips with two touchdowns in the defeat.

“I thought we moved the ball once we got inside of the 20, but I think it was more once we got down inside the five,” Satterfield said, reflecting on the Miami (Ohio) game. “They had a great plan for our quarterback run game. When you get down into tight red, somebody is going to have to beat somebody else because everybody there is basically one on one.”

The Bearcats will certainly be looking to win those one-on-one matchups against the Sooners on Saturday.

The game will be televised on FOX with a 12:05 p.m. ET kick and immediately preceded by FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff pregame show at 10 a.m. Calling the game will be Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analyst) and Jenny Taft (sideline).

The radio broadcast will be on 700 WLW with the pregame show beginning at 11 a.m. Dan Hoard (play-by-play), Jim Kelly (analyst) and Tony Pike (sideline) are on the call.

Head Coach Scott Satterfield, senior safety Taj Ward and senior running back Ryan Montgomery met with the media on Tuesday, which can be found here.

Cincinnati outgained Miami (Ohio) 538-358, but scored on only 5 of 8 red zone trips. UC converted a fake punt from its own 26 with the score tied 24-24 and had a 35-yard field goal attempt blocked with 19 seconds left in regulation.

QB Emory Jones rushed for 101 yards – the second most of his career – but his 4th-down pass in overtime was picked off in the end zone as the RedHawks grabbed back the Victory Bell with a 31-24 win. RB Ryan Montgomery had his first career 100-yard game, while WR Xzavier Henderson tallied 12 catches (tied for 4th-most in UC history) for 140 yards. S Taj Ward forced a fumble for the second consecutive game and S Bryon Threats recorded his second interception of the season.

The Bearcats and Sooners are playing for the third time and the first at Nippert Stadium.

Oklahoma won 52-26 in Norman, Okla., in 2008 during a season in which it advanced to the BCS Championship Game. UC’s loss was one of just two in the regular season that year as the Bearcats won the BIG EAST and played in the Orange Bowl. Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford tossed five touchdowns in the game, but was intercepted twice.

In 2010, Oklahoma edged Cincinnati, 31-29, at Paul Brown Stadium (now called Paycor Stadium) despite 169 yards rushing from RB Isiah Pead and 171 yards receiving from DJ Woods. Cincinnati is 5-4 against ranked teams since the start of the 2020 season. The most notable ranked win came at No. 9 Notre Dame on Oct. 2, 2021 – the landmark victory during the Bearcats’ undefeated march to the College Football Playoff in 2021.

Senior WR Xzavier Henderson, a transfer from Florida, leads Cincinnati and is tied for first in the Big 12 with 20 receptions. He has 299 yards receiving and one touchdown through the first three games. Henderson had 149 yards in the season opener against EKU at Nippert Stadium before his 140-yard game versus Miami (Ohio).

He led Florida in receptions in 2022 and is a former Florida High School state champion in the 400m dash.

Cincinnati’s 239.3 rushing yards per game average leads the Big 12 and ranks eighth in the nation through three games.

The Bearcats have had three players tally 100-yard games. RB Corey Kiner surpassed the century mark against EKU (123) and at Pitt (158), while RB Ryan Montgomery (104 yards) and QB Emory Jones (101) both topped 100 against Miami (Ohio).

Overall, the Bearcats rank No. 12 in total offense (525.3) and No. 8 in time of possession (34:15).

UC ranks second in the Big 12 with 21 scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more.

Kiner ranks third in the Big 12 and 18th overall in rushing yards per game (96.3) in 2023.


  • Cincinnati has the nation’s second-highest home winning percentage (92.9%) since 2019.
  • Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 45.5% (35-of-77) of passes against UC’s defense – which ranks third in the nation.
  • The Bearcats rank second in the Big 12 and 16th in the nation with 10 sacks. Defensive Coordinator Bryan Brown‘s Louisville defense led the nation with 50 sacks in 2022.
  • QB Emory Jones has 58 career total TDs, two 7-TD games, two 300-yard passing games, two 100-yard rushing games, 23 starts and two P5 conference POTW awards.
  • The Bearcats went to back-to-back NY6 Bowls from 2020-21, and were the only G5 team to advance to the CFP (2021).
  • Cincinnati is 661-600-50 (.523) all-time and is playing its 136th football season in 2023 (since 1885, one of 10 oldest in FBS).
  • UC returned only one starter on offense: center Gavin Gerhardt, who started all 13 games in 2022.
  • Fifth-year senior Jowon Briggs is married and just had his third child on Friday, Aug. 25, with his wife, Nyjae. He was a First Team All-AAC defensive tackle in 2022. A Cincinnati native, he started his career at Virginia before transferring to UC in 2021.
  • Mason Fletcher and DT Dontay “The Godfather” Corleone were preseason All-Big 12 picks. Both players were Third Team All-Americans from the AP in 2022. Corleone was the nation’s highest graded defensive player last fall, according to PFF.