Cincinnati (2-3) at SMU (0-5) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) — Dallas, Texas.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Cincinnati 2-1, SMU 0-2. Away Record:
Cincinnati 0-2, SMU 0-3. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference
Record: Cincinnati 0-1, SMU 0-1. Series Record: Cincinnati leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: The disappointing Cincinnati Bearcats head to the Lone Star State
for an American Athletic Conference clash with the winless SMU Mustangs.

Tommy Tuberville’s Bearcats were considered one of the contenders in the AAC
this season, but they have fallen short of such expectations. A 55-34 setback
against Miami-Florida last weekend was the third straight defeat for the
squad, which lost its only league game in a 41-14 decision against Memphis.

Cincinnati’s first five games have been rousing successes compared to SMU,
which is 0-5 overall and 0-1 in conference, following a 45-24 setback against
East Carolina last weekend. If there was any good news that came from the loss
it was that the Mustangs scored 24 points. They had 12 combined points in the
first four contests.

These teams met for the first time last November, with Cincinnati squeezing
out a 28-25 victory at home.

Tuberville has maintained his identity as an offensive-minded coach despite
Cincinnati’s sluggish start. The Bearcats are second in the AAC in total
offense (430 ypg) and fourth in scoring (33 ppg).

Gunner Kiel’s play under center has been a major reason for the offensive
potency. After suffering an injury in the previous game, Kiel gutted out the
Miami game to finish with three touchdowns and 355 yards. However, he was also
picked off three times, bringing his season total to six. Kiel leads the AAC
in touchdown passes (18) and is second in yards per game (322.4).

It helps that Chris Moore and Mekale McKay have been explosive when they get
the ball. Moore has 414 yards and five touchdowns on only 17 receptions. McKay
also has 17 receptions and five scores, but he has tallied 312 yards. Shaq
Washington (24 receptions, 233 yards, two TDs) and Max Morrison (18
receptions, 218 yards, two TDs) also work into the rotation.

The Bearcats did not have much of a rushing attack against Miami, with only 67
yards on the ground as a team. It certainly didn’t help that Tion Green (118
yards, TD) did not play for a second straight week, and that Hosey Williams
did not pick up a single yard. Rod Moore has been the leading rusher the past
two games.

What is really holding Cincinnati back is its inability to slow opposing
offenses. The Bearcats are last in the AAC in total defense (573.6 ypg), while
letting up just over 40 points per game. They were lit up for 621 yards and
the 55 points in the loss to Miami.

Jeff Luc (67 tackles) is one of the conference’s leader in tackles, while
Terrell Hartsfield (4.0 sacks) is the only player on the team that has been
consistent on the pass rush.

Cincinnati’s defense may have an easier time this weekend against one of the
worst offenses in the country. SMU is the only team in the FBS scoring less
than 10 points per game, while ranking next-to-last in total offense (243.4
ypg).

On the bright side, the Mustangs did score 24 point and tally a season-high
390 yards against the league-leading Pirates.

Garrett Krstich is one of four players to see time under center this season,
and he took every snap against ECU and finished with 339 yards and two
touchdowns on 42-of-67 passing. His yardage total for was more than half of
the Mustangs’ passing output in the first four games combined (652).

In the loss to ECU, Darius Joseph finally showed the ability that made him a
top-10 receiver in the conference last season. He brought in 13 passes for 100
yards and two scores. He had a mere 64 yards entering the game. Der’rikk
Thompson (19 receptions, 236 yards) is still the team-leader in receiving
yards.

Running the ball has been extremely difficult for the Mustangs, with leading
rusher Kevin Pope amassing only 102 yards on 33 carries. Pope was limited to a
single yard on three attempts against ECU, marking the third time this season
he had less than 20 yards in a game.

While the offense has been frustratingly ineffective, the defense has been as
porous as can be. The Mustangs are last in the league in scoring defense (49.4
ypg), while better than only their opponent this week in yards allowed (557
ypg).

Hayden Greenbauer (32 tackles) is second on the team in tackles and has one of
only four forced turnovers. The Mustangs also have a league-low four sacks.

Perhaps Cincinnati is not the contender it was predicted to be, but it is
certainly good enough to defeat SMU.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 38, SMU 21