Saturday, October 21; 11 AM CT; Nippert Stadium; Cincinnati, OH
Radio: Bearcats Sports Network (Dan Hoard, Jim Kelly Jr., Mo Egger); Radio: Baylor Sports Network (John Morris, J.J. Joe, Ricky Thompson)
Records: Baylor (2-4); Cincinnati (2-4)
Last Week: Iowa State 30, Cincinnati 10; Baylor had a bye week
Series History: First meeting between teams
Last Meeting: N/A
Line: Cincinnati (-2.5)
Fun Fact: Saturday’s matchup between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Baylor Bears will be the first time these teams have seen each other on a football field in program history.
QB BLAKE SHAPEN
Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen has been a solid piece of the Bears’ roster since returning from an injury earlier in the 2023 season, and while the record may not reflect the group’s overall talent at this moment in the season, Shapen should be a major factor against Cincinnati. The junior signal caller has thrown for 920 passing yards and four scores in three games this year and could put up another impressive game against the Bearcats defense.
LB MATT JONES
Senior linebacker Matt Jones has quickly become one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball for Baylor in 2023 and should continue that trend this weekend. Jones leads his team in total tackles this season with 41 stops and also adds two sacks to his season total. He will face a dynamic athlete behind Cincinnati’s offensive line in Emory Jones, and while he hasn’t had a ton of success to date as a passer in the pocket, his athleticism will be a challenge for Matt Jones to keep an eye on.
QB EMORY JONES
Is Emory Jones the best quarterback in the Big 12 Conference? No. But he is an incredible athlete that’s capable of stringing some throws together and putting pressure on an opposing squad. It is no secret that Jones has been careless with the football this season as he enters the Week 8 matchup with eight total picks thrown, but if he can take care of the football and get going early, the Bears could have a tough task on their plate come Saturday.
LB DANIEL GRZESIAK
Senior line backer Daniel Grzesiak enters Saturday’s matchup against Baylor as the sack leader for the Bearcats defense with 3.5 on the season. The California native also adds 25 total tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a pass breakup in 2023. While Baylor has not looked like the most impressive offense in the country this season, the group is still capable of putting up points quickly, as seen in Week 5 when the team rallied off 30+ points in the second half to take down UCF. Grzesiak will have to show up in order to get his defense off the field consistently.
While the team has already dropped two losses this season, the Big 12 is one of the most unpredictable conferences in America. Baylor has looked vastly different every game of the season and if they can find some consistency in terms of the on the field product for the remainder of the season, a bowl appearance is still within the realm of possibility. How will Baylor look in a winnable football game on Saturday?
Can Cincinnati get over the first-win hump? While I know the Bearcats have wins over Eastern Kentucky and Pittsburgh, the team has looked nothing short of awful outside of the first two weeks of the season. Baylor is a winnable game and the perfect opponent to build some confidence for Emory Jones. This game could prove to players that the team is headed in the right direction under Scott Satterfield.
PREDICTION: BAYLOR 37, CINCINNATI 31
Oddly enough, I think this game will be a high-scoring affair despite featuring somewhat lackluster offenses. Blake Shapen will be the best performer in the matchup and lead his squad to their third win of the season to advance to 3-4 overall, and 2-2 in Big 12 play. At the end of the day, I lean Dave Aranda and the Bears to get the job done more than that of Scott Satterfield and the Bearcats.