Week 7: Baylor Preview

By: Ryan Roberts

Scott Satterfield's first season as the head coach of the Bearcats' football program has been up and down to date. UC started the season with wins over EKU and Pitt, but have since lost four consecutive and are still looking for their first Big 12 win.

UC will get another opportunity to pick up that first Big 12 win Saturday when the Baylor Bears visit Nippert Stadium for a noon kickoff. The Bears are 1-2 in league play with a win over UCF, but enter Saturday's game 2-4 after losing to Texas Tech, 39-14, prior to their bye week last week.

Needless to say, both teams are in desperate need of a win.

Match Up Notes:

- Cincinnati welcomes Baylor to Historic Nippert Stadium for a 12 p.m. ET Big 12 Conference matchup. The Bearcats and the Bears will face-off for the first-time in history, marking the second straight week UC will face an opponent for the first time ever.

- Saturday's contest is expected to be the 16th consecutive sell-out of Nippert Stadium. 

- Cincinnati was held to a season-low 214 yards of total offense in the 30-10 loss to Iowa State

- Baylor had 19 players make their starting debuts in the first three games of the year. This is a team that lacks experience in certain positions and has relied a lot on youth. A total of 20 freshman saw action in Baylor’s first three games of the year.

- Baylor added 13 new players through the transfer portal, including instant-impact players in BYU offensive lineman Campbell Barrington and Clark Barrington, Liberty linebacker Mike Smith, wide receiver Ketron Jackson Jr., Utah State linebacker Bryon Vaughns, Oklahoma State running back Dominic Richardson, Maine defensive lineman Justin Sambu, Oregon defensive lineman Treven Ma’ae, Miami cornerback Isaiah Dunson, Mississippi State quarterback Sawyer Robertson, Michigan State kicker Jack Stone and North Texas tight end Jake Roberts

Cincinnati numbers and Stats to Know:

Cincinnati is rushing for 202.7 yards per game to rank No. 16 in the nation and No. 4 in the Big 12.

- The Bearcats are allowing opponents just 104.2 rushing yards per game to rank No. 17 in the country and No. 1 in the Big 12.

- In conference-only games, UC is allowing 98.7 rush yards per game - the fewest in the league by 30 yards and allowing 2.96 yards per rush...with this in mind, we probably see more teams throw the ball moving forward, knowing they aren't going to have as much room to run. Cincinnati has struggled against the pass in third down situations throughout the season with multiple defensive passing interference calls and big gains down the sideline. With the announcement of Sammy Anderson being out for the season, Cincinnati will have to move forward with youth and inexperience. 

- The Bearcats rank No. 11 in time of possession (32:45) overall and No. 30 nationally in total offense (444.0).

- UC ranks 36th nationally and third in the Big 12 in total defense (334.3 ypg) 

Baylor Stats and Numbers to know:

Baylor ranks 10th in the league in yards per game (401)

- The Bears have shown a balanced attack, averaging 280 yards through the air and 122 yards on the ground. They struggled to run the ball against Texas Tech, picking up 30 yards on 17 attempts. Against Texas, Baylor rushed for 60 yards on 31 attempts. 

- Defensively, Baylor is giving up an average of 390 yards per game. They have been decent against the pass, giving up just 206 yards per game, but rush defense has been a struggle as they give up an average of 184 yards per game.

- Baylor has struggled on third down with a 38% success rate. This is another game where Bryan Brown and the defense need to bring pressure and get to the QB in down and distance situations. 

Players to Watch:

Baylor is led by junior quarterback Blake Shapen, the 2021 Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player, who passed for 2,790 yards and 18 TDs en route to honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in 2022. Through 6 games, Shapen is completing 62% of his passes for 920 yards and zero interceptions. He has taken 12 sacks, so there is opportunity for the defense to get to him.

- The Bears' leading rusher is Richard Reese. He rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries against UCF and comes in with 229 yards on 49 carries. Reese set a freshman program record with 972 rushing yards in 2022, earning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America honors. He totaled 14 rushing TDs, the fourth-most in program history.

Dominic Richardson splits carries with Reese and enters Saturday's match up with 218 yards on 55 carries. 

- Freshman cornerback Caden Jenkins was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week and the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week following a 36-35 win at UCF. With Emory Jones' struggles with turnovers in the passing game, Jenkins is a guy that Jones will have to be mindful of. 

- 5-foot-9 Junior WR Monaray Baldwin leads Baylor in receiving with 404 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 catches. He is a speed guy that earned the No. 42 spot on The Athletic's Preseason "Freaks" list of 100, a year after leading the Bears with 33 catches, with 565 yards and four TDs. He hit 22.8 MPH on the GPS during a TD catch vs. Oklahoma State, which marked the fastest player in college football in 2022. 

- Ketron Jackson Jr and Hall Presley are the other two wide receivers to watch in this game. Jackson has 15 catches for 235 yards, while Presley has 17 catches for 222 yards. 

- Defensively, Baylor is led by linebacker Matt Jones. He has averaged 8 tackles per game over the past 3 Baylor games. Safety Devyn Bobby is the Bears' second leading tackler with 33 tackles and a forced fumble. Baylor's defense has 12 sacks through 6 games. 

Everything Dave Aranda said about the matchup against Cincinnati:

Opening statement and relationship with UC's staff:

 Aranda on Emory Jones:

 Dave Aranda on Cincinnati's Defense:

Baylor comes in much like Cincinnati, in need of a win. Dave Aranda spoke on that and what this past week has been like preparing for Cincinnati:

Scott Satterfield's thoughts on Baylor:

How to watch/listen:

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+
Shawn Kenney (PxP), Barrett Brooks (Analyst), Tori Petry (Sideline)
Local: 700 WLW
Satellite: SiriusXM 136 or 200
App: IHeart Radio App and Varsity Network: "Search Cincinnati"

Scott Satterfield hit the nail on the head when saying this is a game that probably comes down to who wants it more. Both teams are desperate for a win and need to win this week if they want to have a chance at making a bowl game. 

For Cincinnati, there has to be more energy from the jump and they have to limit turnovers. Teams have taken advantage of UC miscues while Cincinnati has struggled to create turnovers. Take care of the ball, run effectively, and limit the big play/penalties. Do those three things and the Bearcats "should" win this game. 

See y'all Saturday at noon. 




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