Editor’s note: Second in a series previewing each team in the Big 12.

When BYU hosts Cincinnati on Sept. 29 in Provo for one of those Friday night games the Cougars always have in late September or early October, the matchup won’t need any extra buildup because it will be the first meeting between the Big 12 newcomers since 2016.

But here’s a little tidbit to keep an eye on: Two of the best punters in the country will go head-to-head at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Cincinnati features Associated Press Third Team All-American Mason Fletcher, while BYU has fourth-year punter Ryan Rehkow.

Suffice it to say that the field will be flipped a lot, and both teams could be pinned deep in their territory all night.

Of course, the Bearcats have a lot more outstanding players than just their punter. Cincinnati went 9-4 last year, 6-2 in the American Athletic Conference.

The Bearcats lost 24-7 to Louisville in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl to conclude their last season in the AAC.

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Highly successful head coach Luke Fickell took the Wisconsin job in late November, and UC replaced him with Scott Satterfield, who was 76-48 over 10 years at Louisville and Appalachian State.

Seven starters on both sides of the ball are back, most notably defensive tackle Dontay Corleone, also a third team All-American in 2022. 

Corleone had 45 tackles and three sacks last year and was tabbed as the top defensive player in the country by Pro Football Focus. That gives new defensive coordinator Bryan Brown — who accompanied Satterfield from Louisville — a good starting point for a traditionally strong defense.

Nose tackle Jowon Briggs should make running against UC extremely difficult. Last year, the defense gave up just 4.61 yards per play, fifth-best in the country.

Cincinnati’s defense is also led by playmaker Deshawn Pace, who has 157 tackles and five interceptions the past two seasons. And the Bearcats could have a BYU flair, as Cougars nickel back/linebacker George Udo transferred to the Queen City after BYU had concluded spring camp.

BYU’s George Udo is one of three Cougar defenders to announce this week he will enter the NCAA transfer portal.
BYU’s George Udo walks on to the field for warmups before playing the East Carolinas Pirates on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Provo, Utah. Udo hit the transfer portal and landed at Cincinnati in the offseason. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Offensively, the Bearcats are sorting out a three-way quarterback derby, as transfer Emory Jones (Florida and Arizona State) battles incumbent Ben Bryant, a sixth-year senior, and Evan Prater for the starting job.

Bryant threw for 2,732 yards and 21 touchdowns last season before missing the last two games with a season-ending injury, but insiders say the job isn’t necessarily his.

Jones and Bryant each threw a pair of touchdown passes in Cincinnati’s annual spring game.

As of the beginning of June, Cincinnati had signed 15 players out of the transfer portal — almost all of them from Power Five schools.

“We are excited about where we are headed as we head into the summer,” Satterfield said after the spring game.

Cincinnati opens at home against FCS Eastern Kentucky and will also face Pittsburgh, Miami (Ohio) and Oklahoma before traveling to BYU for the showdown of Big 12 newcomers — and outstanding punters.


Cincinnati Bearcats preview

2022 record: 9-4 (6-2 AAC).

Local ties: DB George Udo (transferred from BYU).

2023 schedule

Sept. 2 — Eastern Kentucky.
Sept. 9 — at Pittsburgh.
Sept. 16 — Miami (Ohio).
Sept. 23 — Oklahoma.
Sept. 29 — at BYU.
Oct. 14 — Iowa State.
Oct. 21 — Baylor.
Oct. 28 — at Oklahoma State.
Nov. 4 — UCF.
Nov. 11 — at Houston.
Nov. 18 — at West Virginia.
Nov. 25 — Kansas.

After a successful run leading the Cardinals, Scott Satterfield is hoping for similar success leading the Bearcats in 2023.
After a successful run leading the Louisville Cardinals, Scott Satterfield is hoping for similar success leading the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2023. | Timothy D. Easley, Associated Press