BYU (3-1) vs. Cincinnati (2-2)
Kickoff: Friday, 8:15 p.m. MDT.
Venue: LaVell Edwards Stadium (Capacity: 63,725).
Radio: KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM/BYU Radio Sirius XM 143.
Series: BYU leads, 2-0.
Weather: A perfect night for football is expected, with clear skies and temperatures in the low-70s, dropping to the mid-50s by midnight. It could get breezy, with wind gusts up to 10 mph throughout the night.
For BYU: The Cougars’ seven-game winning streak was snapped in last Saturday’s 38-27 loss to Kansas in the Big 12 opener for both schools. BYU plays decidedly better in night games under head coach Kalani Sitake. The Cougars are 14-1 in their last 15 games that started after 6 p.m. Their last night loss was to East Carolina last October at LaVell Edwards Stadium. BYU is 6-4 in Friday night games under Sitake.
For Cincinnati: The Bearcats have victories over Eastern Kentucky (66-13) and Pittsburgh (27-21) and losses to Miami-Ohio (31-24) and Oklahoma (20-6) on their early-season résumé. Defense has carried the Big 12 newcomer early in the season, as Cincy held an OU team that was averaging 55.7 points per game to just 20 last week at Nippert Stadium. Dorian Jones led the defensive effort against the Sooners with 13 tackles and two TFLs.
What to watch for
The Cougars played relatively injury-free the first three games of the season, but were bitten by the injury bug at Kansas, and could be without several starters in their long-awaited Big 12 home opener. Edwards Stadium is sold out (63,725) for the historic event. It will be BYU’s first home conference game since November 2010 against New Mexico. Among those who probably won’t play are leading tackler Ben Bywater (shoulder), running back Aidan Robbins (broken ribs) and receiver Parker Kingston (concussion).
Look for BYU to try to get its nonexistent running game going, after the Cougars had just 9 yards on the ground last week against Kansas.
For Cincinnati, quarterback Emory Jones is also a two-time transfer, just like BYU’s Kedon Slovis. However, the Bearcats like to run the ball, and they do it well. They are averaging 214.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks 14th in the country and third in the Big 12. With the dual-threat Jones, who played at Arizona State and Florida, at the controls, the Bearcats are averaging 488 yards per game, which also ranks No. 14 nationally.
Look for Cincinnati to try to control the ball and keep it away from Slovis and his array of weapons. The Bearcats are No. 7 in the country in time of possession (33:48).
Harrison Taggart, redshirt freshman, BYU linebacker: With stud middle linebacker Ben Bywater likely out with a shoulder injury, the responsibility to stop Cincy’s punishing rushing attack will fall on the shoulders of Oregon transfer Taggart, who prepped locally at Corner Canyon High. Look for the Cougars to also turn to true freshman Siale Esera and Ace Kaufusi if Taggart struggles or tires.
“Yeah, it is all fixable. I mean, probably hard to answer in 30 seconds, but it is all fixable, and we are working on getting that done. And then the proof will be what we do on Friday. So that will be the attempt. I know that we have coaches who have coached a lot of yardage on runs before, and players that can do it, too. So, there shouldn’t be any reason why we can’t do what we want on Friday night.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake on the run game
“I think they are just a very solid football team. You look at their kicking game. Their punter (Ryan Rehkow) is one of the best in the country. He can boom it. He flips fields that way. They play solid defense, and that is how they have been winning games and done some great things. So another challenge for us. Going on the road. Looking forward to that, going out and playing these guys. A lot of respect for what they do.” — Cincinnati coach Scott Satterfield
BYU: at TCU on Oct. 14.
Cincinnati: vs. Iowa State on Oct. 14.
- Aug. 31 — BYU 14, Sam Houston 0.
- Sept. 9 — BYU 41, Southern Utah 16.
- Sept. 16 — BYU 38, Arkansas 31.
- Sept. 23 — at Kansas (1:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN).
- Sept. 29 — vs. Cincinnati (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN).
- Oct. 14 — at TCU (TBA).
- Oct. 21 — vs. Texas Tech (TBA).
- Oct. 28 — at Texas (TBA).
- Nov. 4 — at West Virginia (TBA).
- Nov. 11 — vs. Iowa State (TBA).
- Nov. 18 — vs. Oklahoma (TBA).
- Nov. 25 — at Oklahoma State (TBA).