COUGAR TRACKS

BYU vs. Cincinnati: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Sep 28, 2023, 11:43 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU vs Cincinnati in football is taking place for only the third meeting all-time.

It’s the first time these two programs are squaring off as Big 12 foes. BYU and Cincinnati are in their inaugural seasons with the Big 12 Conference. Each is looking for their first-ever win in Big 12 play.

BYU comes into the game with a 3-1 overall record, 0-1 in the Big 12 after a 38-27 setback last week at Kansas. Cincinnati is on a two-game losing streak after falling to in-state rival Miami (OH) two weeks ago, then a 20-6 loss to Oklahoma in Nippert Stadium.

BYU leads the all-time series 2-0. The last meeting took place in 2016. Friday’s meeting is the first matchup in Provo since 2015.

BYU vs Cincinnati

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. (MDT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame begins at 6 p.m.

It’s time for the 3-2-1 game preview for BYU’s week five matchup and Big 12 home opener against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Three Game Day Thoughts

#1 Important game beyond being the Big 12 home opener

BYU is getting set for its first home game as a Big 12 program. That alone is a big deal. What’s an even bigger deal is having success in year one of the league. That would mean getting to a bowl game and finding a way to get into the top five of the league.

A win on Friday night against the Bearcats would go a long way toward achieving that.

BYU is currently an underdog against Cincy. The Cougars have performed well in these spots, winning four of their last five as a home underdog.

A loss could have people wondering when BYU will get its first Big 12 win, as three of the following four after Friday are on the road.

#2 Has the makings of a defensive battle

BYU and Cincinnati have been solid defensively. The Bearcats boast one of the top defensive lines in college football, led by defensive tackle Dontay Corleone a.k.a. “The Godfather.” At the same time, BYU has given up its share of points the past two weeks with some bend but don’t break play.

The good news for BYU is that they’ve shown an ability to create disruption and make momentum-swinging plays. That was something they weren’t capable of last year.

BYU defensive end Tyler Batty said he wouldn’t oppose a defensive battle. My feeling on game day is that it will play out that way.

#3 Transfer Portal QB matchup

Tonight is an intriguing matchup at quarterback as both teams feature transfer portal quarterbacks at their third spot in three years. For BYU, Kedon Slovis has played at a high level. He has passed for 1,011 yards through four weeks and fit well into BYU’s offensive scheme.

For Cincinnati, former Florida and Arizona State signal-caller Emory Jones is calling the shots for the Bearcats. After a week one offensive explosion that saw Jones account for seven touchdowns, the Cincy offense has struggled against FBS competition. The highest point total the Bearcats have put up was 27 points in an upset win against Pitt.

Slovis had some costly mistakes last week in the loss to Kansas but has done a nice job of taking care of the football. Jones already has five interceptions this season.

Two BYU vs Cincinnati Questions

#1 Will BYU’s ground attack find success against Cincinnati’s tough defense?

BYU only has 244 yards of rushing through four weeks. It’s the lowest rushing yards total in the first four games of a season since 2004.

Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick hasn’t pointed to any group causing the issues. He was noting that all 11 guys on offense have a role in creating a successful ground attack. Many want to point the finger at the offensive line.

Last week, BYU retooled the offensive front by benching Caleb Etienne in favor of Brayden Keim at right tackle. We will see if changes are made along the offensive front again tonight. Something has to break through for the ground game.

Freshman running back LJ Martin is a talented ball carrier, but is still young. It’s unknown when Aidan Robbins is going to get back from his undisclosed injury so BYU needs in a hurry from the ground.

This week might not be the best to do it against one of the Big 12’s top defensive lines.

#2 Who’s in, who’s out?

The injury report saw some notable names for BYU this week. Some of the key players to keep tabs on are linebacker Ben Bywater (right shoulder), offensive guard Weylin Lapuaho (left arm), and offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia (right leg).

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Cincinnati

I’m calling for a low-scoring game. But I believe BYU’s defense is up for the challenge. BYU’s offense won’t be a thing of beauty, but they will do enough to get the program their first-ever Big 12 Conference victory.

BYU 20, Cincinnati 19

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU vs. Cincinnati: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction