Cincinnati (7-2) at Rutgers (5-3)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454) -- Piscataway, New
Jersey. Television: ESPN News. Home Record: Cincinnati 5-0, Rutgers 4-1. Away
Record: Cincinnati 2-2, Rutgers 1-2. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 0-0, Rutgers
0-0. Conference Record: Cincinnati 4-1, Rutgers 2-2. Series Record: Rutgers
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats will try to keep pace at the top of the
American Athletic Conference standings when they go up against the Rutgers
Scarlet Knights in a conference matchup at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Although they have not been in the Top 25 or grabbed national headlines this
season, the Bearcats have quietly been putting together a strong campaign.
With a 28-25 victory over SMU last weekend, its fourth straight win,
Cincinnati improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in league play. The Bearcats are
currently in a three-way tie for second in the AAC with Louisville and
Houston, while the 7-2 mark matches the Cougars for the third best overall
record in the league. This game begins a difficult three-game stretch to end
the year for the Bearcats, who battle Houston and Louisville in their last two
Rutgers needed a miraculous finish to top Temple last time out. Gary Nova
threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Leonte Carroo with 35 seconds to play to
carry the Scarlet Knights into their bye week with a 23-20 triumph over the
Owls. The win put an end to a two-game slide for the Scarlet Knights, who are
5-3 overall and hanging on in the AAC title race with a mark of 2-2.
Mark Harrison scored on a 71-yard pass from Nova for the only offensive
touchdown of a 10-3 decision that went in favor of Rutgers last year. The win
broke a tie in the all-time series, which the Scarlet Knights now lead, 9-8-1.
Cincinnati has enjoyed a solid season on the offensive side of the ball in its
first year under head coach Tommy Tuberville. The Bearcats are fourth in the
AAC in both scoring (33.3 ppg) and total offense (463.1 ypg).
Brendon Kay has been a steady force at quarterback for the Bearcats, who lost
starter Munchie Legaux in the second week of the season to an injury. In his
time as the starter, Kay has thrown for 2,006 yards and 16 touchdowns, while
connected on 74.1 percent of his pass attempts. Kay has been intercepted seven
times, but has avoided pressure well with just seven sacks. Kay threw for 299
yards, two TDs and two INTs in the win over SMU.
Anthony McClung (45 receptions, 559 yards, five TDs) is the most dangerous
pass-catching threat on the team. McClung is tied for the team lead in
receiving touchdowns and he has had at least 95 yards in each of the last two
games. Shaq Washington (58 receptions, 481 yards) has not scored this year but
is the team's leader in receptions. Chris Moore (28 receptions, 360 yards,
five TDs) and Max Morrison (23 receptions, 364 yards, three TDs) also work
into the rotation.
A trio of backs have handled the rushing duties for the Bearcats. Injuries
have been a reason for the shared load, but Hosey Williams (452 yards, four
TDS), Ralph David Abernathy (396 yards, three TDs) and Tion Green (325 yards,
seven TDs) all got work against the Mustangs. Williams was the leading rusher
as he had 90 yards on 14 carries.
Cincinnati has long been an offensive force but this year the Bearcats have
impressed on defense as well. The Bearcats are second to only Louisville among
AAC teams in total defense (299.0 ypg). The front seven have been the key for
Cincinnati led by linebackers Greg Blair (61 tackles) and Nick Temple (8.5
TFL, 4.0 sacks) as well as defensive linemen Silverberry Mouhon (5.5 sacks)
and Jordan Stepp (5.0 sacks).
Rutgers has held its own on offense. The Scarlet Knights are averaging healthy
total in points (30.9 ppg) and total yards (401.8 ypg) per game.
Nova is under center for the Scarlet Knights. He has not had as productive a
year as his counterpart in this matchup but he has been solid. Nova has thrown
for 1,882 yards and 17 touchdowns, though he has struggled with ball control
(11 interceptions) and has completed less than 60 percent of his pass
attempts. Nova had one of his best games of the year against Temple as he
bounced back from a three-interception game to throw for a season-high
371 yards and three scores on 27-of-38 passing.
Carroo has been inconsistent, but when playing well he is one of the most
lethal threats on the roster. Carroo leads the team in receptions (24),
receiving yards (455) and touchdowns (nine) and is coming off a stellar game
against Temple when he caught seven passes for 147 yards and two scores.
However, Carroo had just 17 yards on three catches in the two previous games.
Tyler Kroft (23 receptions, 340 yards, three TDS) and Brandon Coleman (22
receptions, 326 yards, two TDs) are also important.
The four games that leading rusher Paul James has missed have opened the door
for Justin Goodwin, who has really taken a hold of the opportunity. Goodwin
has rushed for 452 yards and four touchdowns this season despite having just
45 yards in the team's first four games. James has been upgraded to probable
for this week's game, so it remains to be seen how much work either will get.
The strength for Rutgers in recent years has been on defense. This season the
defensive side has been more of a weakness. The Scarlet Knights are letting up
more than 400 yards of total offense per game, though they are tied for third
in the AAC in sacks (22). Leading tackler Steve Longa (80 tackles, 3.0 sacks)
has helped in the pass rush, while Marcus Thompson (4.5 sacks) is the leader
in getting to the quarterback.
The Scarlet Knights are still a strong team, especially outside of the AAC's
elite. Cincinnati is looking to prove that it belongs in that upper echelon
and to do so the Bearcats need to win on the road. Cincinnati has yet to prove
it can do so consistently and that works into Rutgers' favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 28, Cincinnati 27
11/14 16:05:37 ET