FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Life Stadium (76,100) — Miami Gardens, Florida.
Television: RSN. Home Record: Cincinnati 2-1, Miami 3-0. Away Record:
Cincinnati 0-1, Miami 0-3. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 0-0, Miami 0-0.
Conference Record: Cincinnati 0-1, Miami 1-2. Series Record: Miami-Florida
GAME NOTES: In the first meeting between the programs in more than a decade,
the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the Miami-Florida Hurricanes at Sun Life
Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Bearcats were still members of Conference USA and Miami was competing in
the Big East when these teams squared off in 1998 in Cincinnati. The
Hurricanes won that game easily (38-12) to extend their lead in the all-time
series to 10-1.
Cincinnati was considered one of the top contenders in the American Athletic
Conference this season, but that is not how things are shaking out early on.
The Bearcats are just 2-2 overall and coming off an embarrassing 41-14 home
loss to Memphis.
It has been difficult to make sense of what kind of team Miami is, as the
Hurricanes stunned Duke two weeks ago (22-10), but have been uneven most of
the campaign, with an overall record of 3-3 and a mark of 1-2 against Atlantic
Coast Conference foes. The Hurricanes visited Georgia Tech last weekend and
fell in a 28-17 final.
Losing a productive starting quarterback is no way to overcome a sluggish
start, but Cincinnati finds itself in that predicament. Gunner Kiel injured
his ribs in the loss to Memphis and is out indefinitely. He had thrown for
1,257 yards and 15 touchdowns in the first four games. Munchie Legaux is once
again the starter, a job he has held on an off for the last few seasons. He
played the end of the Memphis game and completed only 5-of-13 passes for 39
Kiel certainly got plenty of receivers involved, something Legaux should try
to replicate. Chris Moore (11 receptions, 340 yards, five TDs) is an explosive
deep threat when he gets separation, and Mekale McKay (15 receptions, 315
yards, four TDs) is also a dangerous target. Shaq Washington (18 receptions,
168 yards, TD) has good hands and leads the team in receptions.
Another injury may hurt the Cincinnati offense, as leading rusher Hosey
Williams (140 yards) is questionable with a hobbled knee. Making matters
worse, Tion Green (118 yards, TD) missed the Memphis game, which led to plenty
of chances for Rod Moore, who tallied 65 yards and a score on 14 carries.
While several key pieces will not be in play for the Bearcats, the hope is
that the replacements can help them maintain their solid offensive production
(32.8 ppg, 432 ypg).
Where Legaux can’t help is on defense, where the Bearcats desperately need to
make improvements. They are allowing 37.2 points and more than 560 yards per
game. They are actually the second-worst team in the country in total defense,
ahead of only Bowling Green.
Jeff Luc (63 tackles) and Zach Edwards (50 tackles) have each done their part
to lead the unit. Terrell Hartsfield (3.0 sacks) paces the team in sacks.
Al Golden’s Hurricanes are not an offensive force by any stretch of the
imagination, as they are the third-worst team in the ACC in total offense
(393.5 ypg), while scoring a pedestrian 27.5 ppg.
The lack of offensive potency is no fault of Duke Johnson, who is one of the
best running backs in the ACC. He has racked up 625 yards and five touchdowns
overall this season, and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He is one of only
three players in the conference to average at least 100 yards per game.
Brad Kaaya has gotten plenty of chances to throw the ball from under center,
but he has been hot and cold. On the bright side, he has completed 61.9
percent of his throws for 1,520 yards and 13 touchdowns. In a more negative
light, he has been intercepted nine times. He did not have a strong game
against Duke, finishing with two picks, a touchdown and 245 yards on 16-of-25
The receiving corps has plenty of playmakers, and Phillip Dorsett (13
receptions, 407 yards, four TDs) leads the team in touchdown receptions while
averaging 31.3 yards per catch. Clive Walford (19 receptions, 266 yards, three
TDs), Herb Waters (17 receptions, 213 yards, TD) and Braxton Berrios (17
receptions, 185 yards, three TDs) have also been productive performers.
Golden has always been a defensive-minded coach, and that has proven to be
true this season. The Hurricanes allow only 311.7 yards per game while letting
up only 22.8 points each week.
Denzel Perryman (5 tackles) leads the team in tackles, but it has been
Thurston Armbrister (35 tackles, 5.0 sacks) who has been the unit’s more
important player, as he is tied for fifth in the ACC in sacks.
Having Legaux under center isn’t the end of the world for Cincinnati as he
has plenty of experience. However, the Bearcats have too many issues on the
defensive side of the ball to hope for a road victory against a Miami team
that is running closer to full strength.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 31, Cincinnati 24