By Bane Rossi
Cincinnati Football Welcomes UCF to Nippert Stadium
The Bearcats will honor the military and celebrate the latest Hall of Fame inductees at the game
CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati football team enters this Saturday’s Week 9 matchup with UCF ranked sixth in the nation in rushing yards (222.6), while the Knights possess the Big 12’s top ground attack and rank fourth in the country at 227.0 yards per game.
Surprisingly, both teams are still searching for their first Big 12 Conference win as they prepare battle at 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1) at Historic Nippert Stadium.
The stakes are high on Saturday in a game that has become a rivalry in recent years. The all-time series is tied 4-4 and has featured an ESPN College GameDay in Orlando in 2018, the birth of “Sauce” Gardner in 2019 and four first-half touchdowns from Jerome Ford in 2021 to name a few highlights.
Either Cincinnati or UCF appeared in the last six AAC Football Championships (2017 to 2022) with both teams advancing to a pair of New Year’s Six bowl games during that stretch.
UCF is led by ultra-athletic quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and running backs RJ Harvey (89.0 ypg, six TDs) and Johnny Robinson (7.3 ypc, three TD).
The Bearcats are led by the 1-2 combo of Corey Kiner (80.3 ypg) and Myles Montgomery, who has rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries (10.7 ypc) in the last two games.
“When you look at it, both teams can run the football,” Cincinnati first-year head coach Scott Satterfield said. “I think we’re sixth in the country in rushing yards but we’re number three in the Big 12 and they’re number one. They can run the football very well. It really does come down to turnovers for them in some of their games. We’re excited about going out and playing them. We’re putting in everything we can to win this football game.”
FAN APPRECIATION $3 DEAL AT SATURDAY’S GAME
Cincinnati Athletics will give fans the opportunity to purchase $3 soda/Gatorade/water, $3 hotdogs and $3 popcorn on Saturday from the time gates open (1:30 p.m.) until kickoff (3:30 p.m.).
BEARCATS HONOR USS CINCINNATI WITH HELMET DECALS
In recognition of Military Appreciation Day, Cincinnati football will don special helmet decals featuring the crest of the USS Cincinnati LCS 20, a U.S. Navy ship whose namesake is Cincinnati. The USS Cincinnati’s homeport is in San Diego, Calif. It was commissioned in 2019 and is the fifth naval ship named after the city.
Said Satterfield: “We’re excited to be able to honor our military, which is important to me and important to all of us. We are wearing a special decal; you guys can see that on the helmet here. Which is a US naval ship, USS Cincinnati, based out of San Diego, which is awesome and to be able to wear that this weekend and honor those guys. I appreciate everything that they do.”
CINCINNATI CELEBRATES 2023 HALL OF FAME CLASS
All-time Bearcats football great Antwan Peek headlines the 2023 Hall of Fame Class, which will be inducted at Friday night’s Legion of Excellence ceremony.
Peek starred for the Bearcats as a defensive end from 1998 to 2002. He was a three-year starter and the Co-MVP of the 2002 Conference USA Championship Team – UC’s first league title since 1964. He is UC’s all-time leader in sacks (28), TFLs (56), forced fumbles (17) and blocked kicks (seven). His son, Antwan Peek Jr., is a redshirt freshman safety for the Bearcats who made his first start last weekend.
Peek, as well as Core Blount (basketball), Chris Wineberg (track and field) and Ann Thomas (soccer), will also be recognized at Saturday’s game.
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WATCH WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCES
Cincinnati head coach Scott Satterfield, defensive end Malik Vann and safety Antwan Peek Jr. spoke to the media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s game with UCF.
CINCINNATI-UCF SERIES TIED 4-4
Cincinnati and UCF spent recent years at the top of the “Group of Five.” The Knights won 25 straight games and two AAC titles in 2017 and 2018. Cincinnati actually handed UCF its first AAC loss in three years in a historic 27-24 Friday night win 2019 which propelled the Bearcats to back-to-back league titles and AP Top 10 finishes in 2020 and 2021.
The 2019 win over UCF also gave birth to a true freshman cornerback named Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner who had a pick-six in the game that sparked the victory.
Cincinnati has won three of the last four matchups with UCF, but dropped a hard-fought game, 25-21, in Orlando, Fla., in 2022. RB Ryan Montgomery ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run to give UC a 21-18 lead with 3:03 left in the game, but UCF answered with a 17-yard TD run by RB RJ Harvey with 48 seconds left to secure the victory.
The last time UCF traveled to Nippert Stadium, RB Jerome Ford rushed for 176 yards and four scores before halftime to the lead the third-ranked Bearcats to a 56-21 victory. Deshawn Pace added a TFL and an INT in the win, as well.
Scott Satterfield’s Louisville team defeated UCF, 20-14, in Orlando in 2022, and 42-35 in Louisvile in 2021.
A team has scored 50 points three times in eight all-time matchups in the series.
VANN RANKS AS BIG 12’S TOP EDGE ACCORDING TO PFF
Sixth-year senior defensive end Malik Vann rates as the Big 12’s top edge (81.1) according to PFF. He has 10 tackles and 1.5 TFLs rotating with the first team defensive line this season.
The Cincinnati native (Fairfield HS) has played in 57 games and tallied 100 tackles, 23.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks in his career.
Also rating well via PFF are OG Luke Kandra – the Big 12’s No. 2-rated guard (79.4) and No. 3 overall P5 guard, and DT Dontay Corleone. The Godfather’s 80.6 rating is the fourth-highest among interior defensive lineman in the Big 12. Corleone was the highest rated defensive player in the country (92.7 grade) according to PFF in 2022.
LAST GAME: BIG THIRD QUARTER LIFTS OKLAHOMA STATE PAST UC
Cincinnati rushed for 277 yards despite losing leading rushers Corey Kiner and Myles Montgomery due to injury, but fell to Oklahoma State, 45-13, on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.
The Cowboys were even more impressive on the ground with RB Ollie Gordon rushing for 271 yards and two scores.
UC trailed 10-7 at halftime, but Oklahoma State scored two touchdowns in the first six minutes to pull away for good.
BEARCATS RUSHING ATTACK AMONG NATION’S BEST
- Cincinnati is sixth nationally with 222.6 rush yards per game, up from 93rd last year at 129.7. UC has run for 200 or more yards in six of eight contests, plus 288 against Baylor and 277 at Oklahoma State in its last two outings.
- Corey Kiner is up to 642 yards on the year as he seeks to become UC’s second 1,000-yard rusher of the last three years. Myles Montgomery has boasted season-long runs of 38 and 63 yards the past two weeks, both for touchdowns.
- All 11 offensive starters in the season opener were starting their first game ever for UC. C Gavin Gerhardt is the only returning offensive starter for the Bearcats. He did not start Game 1, but he has started the last seven contests.
- The Cincinnati wide receiver room returned just one scholarship receiver in redshirt junior Chris Scott.
- After the 2022 season, Cincinnati had 15 players enter the transfer portal and leave the program and another 17 either graduated or declared for the NFL Draft. The Bearcats brought in 23 college transfers for this fall.
- Cincinnati is 661-604-50 (.522) all-time and is playing its 136th football season in 2023 (since 1885, one of 10 oldest in FBS).
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