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6 numbers to know about the BYU-Cincinnati game

Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel passes during the second half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 31-19. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel passes during the second half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 31-19. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo, AP

CINCINNATI — After a much-needed bye week, BYU will hit the road for the final time this season as the team looks to build momentum toward a potential bowl game invite. The Cougars will be playing their first-ever game in the state of Ohio as they take on the Cincinnati Bearcats (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MT, CBS Sports Network). BYU has an overall 2-3 record against Ohio-based schools, but those games have been played in Provo (Cincinnati, Toledo) or in bowl games (Ohio State).

Here are six numbers to watch for as the two schools both look for win number five on the season:


30


This will mark the second game in a row that the home team has an extended home field winning streak. Greg Wrubell again points out that Cincinnati has won 30 consecutive non-conference games at home, a streak dating back to an October 5, 2002, loss to in-state foe Miami of Ohio. The Bearcats have gone 61-17 in all games at Nippert Stadium since that loss (not counting “home games” at the Bengals stadium). Even though the stadium holds only 40,000 fans, it has been a tough place for non-conference teams to earn wins. The Cougars will look to end that streak this weekend.


3


This road-trip will mark the third time in nine games that BYU has traveled to the Eastern Time Zone for a game this season. This is the second season since going independent that the Cougars have had three road games that far from Provo. The last time it happened was 2014 when BYU beat UConn but lost to Central Florida and Notre Dame. With a win this weekend, the Cougars will finish with a 2-1 mark and earn their fifth win in the Eastern Time Zone since 2011.


1989


Prior to the game at Boise State when Fred Warner and Dayan Lake returned interceptions for touchdowns, it had been 336 games since the Cougar defense had returned two interceptions for scores. Bob Davis and Norm Dixon last did it against UTEP on October 21, 1989. Cincinnati has struggled this year, with two quarterbacks throwing for a total of 10 interceptions. This ranks the Bearcats No. 105 in interceptions thrown this season. BYU should have opportunities to take the ball away again this week and the turnover battle will be an important factor in the outcome as it usually is.


386.1


Much like the BYU offense this season, the Bearcat offense — lead by first-year offensive coordinator Zac Taylor — has struggled throughout the season. Currently averaging 386.1 yards per game (263.5 yards/game passing, 122.6 yards/game rushing), the Bearcats rank 85th in FBS total offense. Their rushing offense has been listless at best, averaging only 3.66 yards per carry. BYU is not much better, averaging 394.6 yards/game (202.0 yards passing, 192.6 yards rushing, ranked 78th).

The Bearcats have had less than 150 yards rushing in five of their eight games so far this season and had their worst offensive outing of the season last week against Temple (119 yards passing, 67 yards rushing) in a 34-13 loss. BYU’s defense should be rested and more healthy this week and able to limit their opponent’s offense.


2


The Cougar defense has been hit hard by injuries this season, especially along the defensive line. Cougar fans got more bad news on that front after the bye week as multiple reports indicate that Travis Tuiloma is done for the season. This is the second defensive lineman that the Cougars have lost in the past two games; Merrill Taliauli hurt his knee in the Mississippi State game and is also out for the year according to an interview with one of his defensive teammates. Fellow defensive linemen Kesni Tausinga, Handsome Tanielu, and Tevita Mo’Unga have played in rotation this season and will be relied upon heavily in the final four games.


128.2


After sitting out the Boise State game due to an injury, senior captain Jamaal Williams should be back on the field against Cincinnati on Saturday. Williams’ assault on the BYU record books took a hit with the injury, but he is still within striking distance of the single-season rushing record. Assuming he stays healthy, Williams will need to average 128.2 yards rushing per game over the final five games (including a bowl game) to surpass Luke Staley’s career mark of 1,582 yards. With less than 60 yards, Williams will eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a season for the second time in his illustrious career. Regardless of the final tally, Williams will go down as one of the greatest Cougars, on and off the field.

Landon Walters studied history and political science at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. Email: mavericksoccer_22@hotmail.com