Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Saturday, September 23; 11:00 a.m. CT; Nippert Stadium; Cincinnati, Ohio
Radio: Sooner Sports Radio (Toby Rowland, Teddy Lehman, Gabe Ikard); Bearcats Sports Network (Dan Hoard, Jim Kelly Jr., Mo Egger)
Records: Oklahoma (3-0); Cincinnati (2-1)
Rankings: Oklahoma No. 16 (AP); Cincinnati NR
Series History: Oklahoma leads, 2-0-0
Last Meeting: Oklahoma 31, Cincinnati 29 (2010)
Line: Oklahoma (-14.5)
Fun Fact: Despite playing in Cincinnati the last time these two teams met, Oklahoma has never been to Nippert Stadium. The 2010 meeting was played at Paul Brown Stadium (Paycor Stadium), the home of the Cincinnati Bengals.
QB Dillon Gabriel
The reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, Dillon Gabriel had himself a career day against Tulsa last week, completing 28-31 attempts (90.3%) for 421 yards and five touchdowns (1 INT) in just three quarters of play. Gabriel has a 12:1 TD:INT ratio this season and is completing 82.5% of his passes on the year. To this point in the season, Gabriel is playing like a Heisman contender, and that bodes well for the Oklahoma offense.
LB Danny Stutsman
Through three games, Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman leads the Big 12 with 30 total tackles (12 solo), ranks third in 4.5 tackles for loss, and has also recorded one sack, one fumble recovery, and one interception (30-yard pick-six). While there’s a lot of season left, he’s well on his way to being one of the top linebackers in the conference in 2023. Stutsman has a nose for the football and will certainly be the guy to watch when OU travels to Cincinnati.
QB Emory Jones
The Cincinnati offense stalled at times against Miami (OH) on Saturday, and Emory Jones’ struggles were a big part of that. Jones completed just 18-34 attempts (52.9%) and had two interceptions on the night. He did have his biggest rushing game of the season, turning 20 carries into 101 yards and one score, but he will need to be sharper in the passing game against a much-improved Oklahoma defense.
DL Dontay Corleone
One of the biggest keys in this game will be the Oklahoma offense line against the Cincinnati defensive line. Perhaps the best defensive lineman in the Big 12 and one of the best in the country, Dontay Corleone will be unlike anything OU’s O-line has seen to this point. Listed at 6-2, 318 pounds, and exhibiting great length and quickness, Corleone will be a major challenge for the Sooners’ interior offensive front.
How real is Oklahoma, and how do they handle a road environment? The Sooners have been the most dominant team in college football through three games, winning by an average of 46.3 points per game. However, two of their three games have come against lower-tier G5 teams. Cincinnati presents a completely different challenge, and even more so with it being a road game for the Sooners. OU went 1-3 in true Big 12 road games last season and will need to be much better this year if they hope to reach their goals.
Can the Cincinnati rushing offense keep it going against a Sooners defensive front that has been very good against the run? Cincy ranks eighth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 239.3 yards per game. Meanwhile, Oklahoma ranks 15th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 78.7 yards on the ground. That means something’s got to give, and the team that wins this battle is likely to have the upper hand in the late stages of the game.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 41, Cincinnati 23
In what figures to be Oklahoma’s biggest test of the year to this point, I think the Sooners will find some adversity in this game at some point. However, I do believe OU will find a way to figure things out on the road and pull away for a good win. The difference in this game will be Dillon Gabriel’s efficiency, and I expect another big day from the Sooners’ signal caller.