Oklahoma defeats Cincinnati 20-6 , Ruins Bearcats Big 12 Home Opener
The Oklahoma Sooners have dominated the Big 12 during the 27 year history of the conference. 14 Big 12 conference championships, 11-1 record in conference championship games, and an overall regular season record of 169-58.
The Sooners came to Nippert Stadium on Saturday with a team that was getting it done on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Dillon Gabriel was leading the nation in pass completion percentage (83%) and second in pass efficiency rating (220.4). The offense ranked top five in scoring offense (55.7 ppg) and Brent Venables' defense ranked 5th in scoring defense (9.3). The Bearcats were going to have to play a mistake free game and execute at a high level if they were going to defeat the #16 team in the country.
Both defenses came ready to play to open the game. After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, Oklahoma's defense forced a three and out as the Bearcats struggled to get anything going on their first possession.
Oklahoma picked up a first down on their first pass play for 16 yards but the Cincinnati defense adjusted and recorded a tackle for loss and back to back incompletions to give the ball back to the Bearcat offense.
Photo by Ryan Luster
On their second drive, the offensive line was able to get some push up front as they gashed the Oklahoma defense for runs of 13 and 11 yards by Corey Kiner and Ryan Montgomery. The Bearcats were aided by a 15 yard defensive pass interference to move the offense to the Oklahoma 22 but two incompletions and a tackle for loss on a jet sweep halted the drive. Carter Brown came on and connected from 40 yards out to give UC a 3-0 lead with 7:47 remaining in the 1st quarter.
Dillon Gabriel got going on the second Oklahoma possession. He completed an 11 yard pass to Gavin Freeman on the second play of the drive then on back to back third downs, completed passes to Jalil Farooq for 19 yards and Nic Anderson for 18 yards.
With Oklahoma driving and at the Bearcats 12 yard line, safety Bryan Threats forced a fumble on quarterback Dillon Gabriel and Jack Dingle recovered to give the ball back to the offense at their own 10 yard line.
Emory Jones completed his first pass of the ensuing drive to Big 12 receptions leader, Xzavier Henderson , for 22 yards to get the offense going but that would be all they'd get on the drive, having to punt three plays later.
Oklahoma took over on their own 34 and proceeded to march 66 yards on 6 plays.. Gabriel completed a pass down the sideline to Jalil Farooq for 26 yards and then found his running back, Tawee Walker, across the middle for 16 yards. Two plays later, he connected with wide receiver Nic Anderson for a 4 yard touchdown to give Oklahoma a 7-3 lead with 34 seconds left in the quarter.
With one quarter of play in the books, Oklahoma had outgained Cincinnati 149-60. Third down was a problem for the UC offense through the first 15 minutes, going 0-3 in 3rd down situations.
Oklahoma's next offensive drive went 72 yards on 12 plays as Zach Schmit connected on a 34 yard field goal to cap off a 4:51 drive to put Oklahoma ahead 10-3 with 8:40 remaining in the second quarter. The Bearcats had Oklahoma in a 3rd and 19 situation on their own 3 yard line after a Dorian Jones sack but Marcus Major picked up 19 yards on the next play to prevent Cincinnati from getting the ball back with good field position.
The Bearcats got some momentum on their next drive. Emory Jones completed passes to Evan Prater for 14 yards and Chamon Metayer for 35 yards to get UC down to the OU 26 yard line, but Emory Jones threw an interception on 3rd and 12. The interception resulted in a touchback and Oklahoma would take over with 5:02 remaining in the half.
Photo by Ryan Luster
At the half, Oklahoma led 10-3 and had outgained UC 247-175.
The Bearcats had a chance to put points on the board after receiving a short punt and taking over at the Oklahoma 46, but Carter Brown missed a 26 yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left to allow Dillon Gabriel to take a knee to run the rest of the clock out.
The biggest storyline of the first half was Cincinnati's inability to convert on third down. The Bearcats were 2 of 9. Both teams struggled to run the ball in the first half- UC outgained OU 39-35.
Needing a little momentum and a stop to start the second half, the defense provided just that. Dillon Gabriel completed his second pass of the opening OU drive to Jayden Gibson for 22 yards but the defense was able to force two incompletions over the next 3 plays to force an Oklahoma punt.
Cincinnati would respond with a 12 play, 49 yard drive over 4:22 that was capped off by a 54 yard field goal by Carter Brown. The kick was a career long for Brown. With 8:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Cincinnati cut Oklahoma's lead to 10-6.
Dillon Gabriel and the Oklahoma offense did what they wanted on the next possession. Rushing 6 times for 47 yards, the OU offense needed just 9 plays and 2:59 to march 75 yards. Dillon Gabriel capped off the drive with a 1 yard touchdown run to extend Oklahoma's lead to 17-6 with 5:23 remaining in the third quarter. The drive was aided by a 15 yard personal foul on Bryan Threats for a late hit.
On the next UC offensive possession, the Bearcat offense drove down to the Oklahoma 20 yard line. Scott Satterfield elected to go for it on 4th and 2 from the Oklahoma 20 yard line and Emory Jones' pass to Payten Singletary was incomplete.
The very first play of the Oklahoma drive was a 49 yard pass and completion from Gabriel to Andrel Anthony. Marcus Major caught a Gabriel pass for 9 yards on the next play and just like that, Oklahoma was on the UC 31 yard line to start the 4th quarter.
Drake Stoops caught a Gabriel 10 yard pass two plays later and then the OU offense converted on a 4th and 1 as Gabriel rushed right for 4 yards to the UC 18. OU's offense would ultimately stall in the red zone and they would settle for a Schmit 30 yard field goal. The 9 play 67 yard drive over 4:33 extended Oklahoma's lead to 20-6 with 10:59 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Myles Montgomery started the next Bearcat drive with a 16 yard run but Oklahoma would sack Emory Jones two plays later for an 11 yard loss. Jones would get those yards, plus some, back on the next play as he converted a 3rd and 19 with a 20 yard run. Corey Kiner rushed for 6 yards on the next play to put Cincinnati at Oklahoma's 42 yard line.
Photo by Ryan Luster
A scramble by Jones for two yards and incompletion by Jones to Henderson put the UC offense in a 4th and 2 situation. Jones would be picked off by Oklahoma on the next play as the ball tipped off two Bearcat receivers hands and in to the hands of Billy Bowman.
With 7:42 left in the game, it was looking like Cincinnati was going to drop their second consecutive game inside of Nippert Stadium and fall to 0-1 in Big 12 Conference play.
When the final seconds came off the clock, Oklahoma walked off the field with a 20-6 victory. The Bearcats closed the game without an offensive touchdown, marking 15 consecutive drives without a touchdown.
Final Stats and Notes:
- Oklahoma outgained UC 427-376
- UC finished 3-15 on third down conversions
- Emory Jones completed 22 of 41 yards for 235 yards and 2 interceptions
- Dee Wiggins led the receivers with 6 catches for 45 yards.
- Chamon Metayer finished with 50 yards on 3 receptions
- Cincinnati falls to 2-2 on the season and have now lost back to back home games for the first time since 2017
- Deshawn Pace did not play but will be back against BYU. Ken Willis made his first career start in his place.
- Andrel Anthony led Oklahoma with 117 yards on 7 catches. Cincinnati limited Oklahoma's Jalil Farook to 2 catches for 45 yards and Nic Anderson to 3 catches for 35 yards. The trio all went over 100 yards each last week against Tulsa.
- Dillon Gabriel finished 26-38 passing for 322 yards and a touchdown.
The Bearcats will travel to BYU for a Friday night matchup against the Cougars. Kickoff is set for 10:30 EST.