Game 12: Kansas Jayhawks Preview

We all knew the 2023 season was going to be a transition year regardless of who was leading the Cincinnati Bearcats. Scott Satterfield took over a program that was not only making the transition to the Big 12 but also a program that was going to need a massive haul in the transfer portal for additional depth. Between graduation, the NFL draft, and outgoing transfers from a coaching change, Cincinnati added more than 20 transfers this off season. 

The Bearcats come in to Saturday night's senior day against Kansas with a disappointing 3-8 record and playing for pride. Kansas (7-4, 4-4 Big 12) enters the regular season finale having already clinched a bowl opportunity, and the most in its first 11 games since 2008.

About the matchup:

- Kansas fell to No. 21 Kansas State last week end, 31-27. Of Kansas’ four defeats this season, three have been decided by one score or less.

- Cincinnati is coming off a loss at West Virginia, where the Bearcats gave up 424 yards rushing and five rushing touchdowns. The defense gave up over 600 yards of offense, with West Virginia picking up 508 yards on 22 plays. 

- This will be the third meeting overall as the two teams traded wins in 1995/1997. Kansas won the inaugural matchup in 1995, defeating the Bearcats 23-18, while Cincinnati won the latest meeting in 1997, 34-7.

- More than 20 Bearcats will play their final game as Bearcats on Saturday when UC hosts Kansas at 7:30 p.m. inside Nippert Stadium. The game will be aired on ESPN2.

- Malik Vann and Taj Ward, both sixth year players, enter their final game with a record of 56-19, while UC's fifth-year players Ryan Montgomery, Eric Phillips, and Justin Harris bring a 45-17 record into Saturday's game.

Inside the numbers:

- Kansas’ offense is averaging 422.9 yards per game, along with 32.2 points per game. Kansas’ defense is allowing 26.6 points per game with four defensive touchdowns, which ranks fourth in the country this season. Defensive tackle Austin Booker leads the team with eight sacks, which are the second most in the Big 12 Conference. DB Ra'Mello Dotson has four interceptions.

- Junior Devin Neal rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the Kansas State loss, marking his 30th career touchdown rush and putting him over the 1,000-yard mark for the second-straight season. Neal leads the Jayhawks, and ranks fifth in the Big 12, with 1,103 yards and 13 touchdowns on 173 carries this season. Sophomore Daniel Hishaw is a very nice compliment to Neal. He has 574 yards on the year and eight touchdowns

- Kansas ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 202.4 rushing yards per game. The Jayhawks have the nation's top punt return defense (-3.00) and No. 2 punt return offense (21.60). 

- Quarterback Jason Bean is expected to be back Saturday after not playing against Kansas State. He has completed 92-of-154 passing attempts for 1,431 yards and 10 touchdowns. Playing in 10 games, he has been the third most efficient Big 12 quarterback with an efficiency rating of 154. He has thrown just 4 interceptions on the year. 

- Wide Receiver Lawrence Arnold has been Bean's favorite target. He has 35 catches for 576 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quentin Skinner is a big-bodied target that has 23 grabs for 435 yards. Luke Grimm and tight-end Mason Fairchild are also weapons through the air. 

- Kenny Logan, Jr leads the KU defense with 76 tackles. The powerful safety is good in zone coverage and has shown good ball skills to make an opposing qb pay for late throws.

Linebackers Rich Miller and JB Brown anchor the linebacker position. Miller is second on the team in tackles with 54 this year. The run defense is probably the weakest part of this Kansas defense. They are currently giving up 170 rushing yards per game, ranking 97th in the country.

- The strength of the KU defense is their ability to get to the quarterback. They have 26 sacks which is good for 2nd in the Big 12. UC's offensive line has struggled in pass protection at times this season, so getting rid of the ball quickly will have to be on the mind of whoever is behind center for the Bearcats.

Lance Leipold on what he's seen from Cincinnati:

 Scott Satterfield on Kansas:

 Scott Satterfield on Kansas' defense:

 Final Thoughts:

UC has shown glimpses of a really good team this season but have also had massive struggles on both sides of the ball. The lack of consistency is probably the most frustrating part for fans that got spoiled under Luke Fickell. Many times during his tenure, the team had bad performances that still led to wins because they simply overmatched the opposition from a talent perspective. Being in the Big 12, that is no longer the case. Mistake free and disciplined football has to become the norm for Cincinnati moving forward if they want to send the seniors off with one last win and close the season on a positive note.

Keys: Run the ball effectively, protect the quarterback, limit turnovers


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