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College Football Writer
In the past, Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati could have made for an intriguing early-season non-conference litmus test, a matchup between a traditional powerhouse and a rising Group of 5 heavyweight.
Now, though, it’s an important Big 12 showdown, a contest between two teams who will have little chance to build up their rivalry before their paths diverge next season.
‘Big Noon Kickoff’ crew previews huge weekend
For the Bearcats, the goal is to make a splash in their first game as a Big 12 team. The Sooners, meanwhile, are looking for one last year of conference dominance before they jump ship for the SEC.
It all kicks off what should be a great day of college football, and “Big Noon Kickoff” is in Cincinnati to document it all.
With the pregame show wrapping up, it’s time to settle in for the game, with live in-game analysis from FOX Sports’ Bryan Fischer!
No. 16 Oklahoma (3-0) at Cincinnati (2-1)
Halftime — Notes at the break
If Cincinnati fans were expecting a shootout for their first Big 12 conference game, they were very mistaken after the first half from Nippert devolved into a slugfest between two physical defenses.
QB Dillon Gabriel was the most consistent source of yards for the visitors from Norman, throwing for 212 yards and the game’s only touchdown while tacking on 8 more yards on the ground. The rest of his backfield was somewhat missing in action, as the team rushed for just 1.9 yards per carry and it felt like every handoff was met by a defender in the backfield.
Luckily for Brent Venables, his defense has been able to pick up the slack to hold the Bearcats to just 2-of-9 on third down while picking off Emory Jones once (the Florida/Arizona State transfer also completed just 13 passes in the half). The Bearcats had just two plays that went beyond 15 yards offensively, and they again struggled in the red zone. Still, it’s remarkably just a seven-point game and there for the taking by either side.
Woof, Cincy’s red zone issues have continued. They drew a penalty, made some errant throws, and then yanked kick to keep points off the board. Far from how the Bearcats wanted to enter Big 12 play, this has become a real thorn for Scott Satterfield as his offense seems almost allergic to crossing the goal line. The silver lining is at least they’re only down a score despite the uneven offensive effort.
0:58 2Q: Sooners avoid disaster
The Sooners were lucky to punt it away as a Dillon Gabriel lateral was a bounce or two away from Cincinnati scooping up a big play. It’s a big opportunity for Cincinnati to tie things up before halftime with 58 seconds.
1:41 2Q: Playing it safe
The Sooners clearly don’t think UC has any speed to beat them deep. They’re playing everything in front of them and daring the Bearcats to dink and dunk down the field without making a mistake.
05:02 2Q: Picked off!
Just when Cincinnati’s pass game was starting to roll with some nice throws by Emory Jones, the transfer quarterback wound up taking too much of a risk by throwing into double coverage and was picked off. On top of spoiling some nice receptions from Xzavier Henderson and Chamon Metayer, it put UC’s defense back on the field.
8:44 2Q: Sooners settle for three
An errant throw by Dillon Gabriel in the red zone led to a field goal for OU, which Cincy will take after allowing another lengthy drive. The key play was that third-and-19, which Oklahoma improbably picked up on a simple draw. The Bearcats defense has to be kicking itself for not getting that stop as they stayed on the field even longer than they should have.
13:31 2Q: Sputtering Cincy
The Bearcats have punted it away again and Scott Satterfield can’t be happy with how his offense is playing right now (3.4 yards per play). They had a second-and-3 but wound up failing to pick up the first down to put the pressure back on their own defense to get another stop. It feels a little too early to say it’s a dangerous time for the home side, but it feels like this upcoming drive is a critical one.
0:34 1Q: TOUCHDOWN SOONERS!
That was more like what we’ve seen so far this season from Oklahoma on that six–play, 66-yard touchdown drive that took just 1:47 off the clock. Dillon Gabriel was in the thick of it as the team’s leading rusher, opening up the RPO game considerably as we saw on that pass Nic Anderson took into the end zone. UC’s linebacking corps is banged up and OU is taking advantage by going sideline-to-sideline and seeing if they can catch up.
Dillon Gabriel finds Nic Anderson for a 5-yard TD
4:23 1Q: Cincinnati has control
Wow, just when OU started to get things going with the ground game, Cincy’s defense came up with a big stop on third down and saw Bryon Threats punch the ball away from Dillon Gabriel to force the fumble. All the momentum on the side of the Bearcats.
7:39 1Q: Bearcats strike first!
Cincinnati still hasn’t done anything offensively — 2.7 yards per play — but the Bearcats took advantage of the short field to knock home the first points of the game and an early 3-0 lead. Not sure if QB Emory Jones is going to settle down given the atmosphere, but it sure seems like he’s a little overeager and not getting a good base on his throws, as he is just 2-of-5 for eight yards on dropbacks.
11:34 1Q: Sputtering start for Sooners offense
Not the start that Brent Venables was hoping for on offense, with the snap hitting Dillon Gabriel in the facemask on third down and the veteran QB doing well enough to even get a pass off to avoid the sack. UC’s defense, playing without star LB Deshawn Pace, looked solid against the run on that first drive as the Nippert crowd made their voice heard.
13:29 1Q: Defense rules
Good first series for Oklahoma’s defense in forcing an early three-and-out. Been a lot of talk about the Sooners’ improved front seven, and you can tell early on they got some solid push up the field as they try to establish themselves in the trenches.
Unnecessary roughness … Ingram on the Bearcat!
Coach Bob Stoops joins the BNK team.
Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops helps preview the game
Nice try, Coach.
Oklahoma’s Brent Venables and Bearcats’ Scott Satterfield talk strategy ahead of their matchup.
Brent Venables talks with Jenny Taft ahead of the game
Scott Satterfield on what it means to have ‘a seat at the table
Ribs for breakfast?!
Nick Lachey had 98 degrees of disrespect for this Sooners fan.
Cincinnati native Nick Lachey is in the house.
Jowon Briggs is hitting all the right notes.
Cincinnati’s Jowon Briggs shows his passion off the field | CFB on FOX
Cincinnati Bearcats’ Jowon Briggs discussed his love for singing and his family.
Breaking down eight key unbeaten teams
There’s a “promposal” on the table in Cincy.
Mark Ingram always knows how to get the crowd hyped!
Pregame party in session …
‘Big Noon Kickoff’ crew give their top four teams so far this college football season
Week 4 wagering: Chris “The Bear” Fallica shares predictions for his favorite Week 4 matchups. Read more.
Are they done: Here’s Fallica’s take on Alabama’s “test of humility.”
Jordan Travis on his mentality ahead of the Seminoles meet up with Tigers.
‘Just be us and ball out’ – Jordan Travis’ mentality on Florida State going into Death Valley to face Clemson | Big Noon Kickoff
Coach Meyer talks key components in the Notre Dame vs. Ohio State game.
Urban Meyer on how Ohio State’s Kyle McCord can succeed against Notre Dame defense | Big Noon Kickoff
How Andrel Anthony became an Oklahoma star: WR Andrel Anthony was languishing at Michigan before entering the transfer portal. He eventually found a home at Oklahoma, along with an offense to suit his skill set. Read more from Michael Cohen.
Who scouts are watching in Week 4: Is undersized Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel a future pro? He’s only one of several players NFL scouts will be watching closely in a stacked Week 4 slate. NFL Draft expert Rob Rang reveals what he’ll be looking for.
Who will lead the Spartans?
Bruce Feldman on who can replace Mel Tucker at Michigan State | Big Noon Kickoff
What we’re watching in Oklahoma-Cincinnati, and the rest of Week 4: Can Oklahoma pass its first real test? Can Colorado and Notre Dame pull off upsets? Our experts share the storylines they’re most interested in during Saturday’s action. Read more.
Contenders or pretenders?: A quarter of the way through the season, it’s a good time to examine each Power 5 conference and analyze which teams are legitimate contenders. Can Oklahoma challenge Texas? Can anyone stop Michigan? And who will emerge in a loaded Pac-12? Bryan Fischer has the story.
PREGAME NUMBERS TO KNOW
2010: The last time Oklahoma and Cincinnati met. The Sooners are 2-0 all-time against the Bearcats.
30: The number of tackles Oklahoma LB Danny Stutsman has this season, which leads the Big 12.
9.3: The average number of points Oklahoma’s defense is allowing per game through three weeks.
+139: Oklahoma has the highest scoring differential in the FBS this season, having outscored opponents 167-28.
3: Rushing TDs this season by Cincinnati QB Emory Jones, which is tied for the most of any Big 12 quarterback.
10: The number of sacks Cincinnati’s defense has through three games, which is tied for second-most in the Big 12 this season.
45.5%: Completion rate the Bearcats are holding opposing quarterbacks to — third-best in the nation.
[More numbers to know in Week 4 games]
And more reading around the sport …
The engine that makes Colorado go: Quarterback Shedeur Sanders has lit a fire in the Buffaloes, just like his father and coach Deion Sanders has done across the entire sport. RJ Young explains the impact of both.
The next great Buckeyes QB?: Kyle McCord had his best game yet in Week 3, but with No. 9 Notre Dame waiting in South Bend on Saturday, it’s time for Ohio State’s first-year starter to sink or swim. Laken Litman has the story.
Who’s up next at Michigan State?: With Mel Tucker on the way out, here are two potential candidates to take over the Spartans program. Read more.
Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets such as NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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