Saturday, November 11th, 2023 6:00 p.m. CT; TDECU Stadium; Houston, Texas
Radio: KPRC 950 AM (Kevin Eschenfelder, Ted Pardee, Jeremy Branham); Bearcats Sports Network (Dan Hoard, Jim Kelly Jr., Mo Egger)
Records: Houston (4-5, 2-4); Cincinnati (2-7, 0-6)
Series History: Houston leads, 15-13-0
Last Meeting: Cincinnati 35 Houston 20 (2021)
Line: Houston (-2.5)
Fun Fact: The last time these two teams met on the football field was in the 2021 AAC Conference Championship Game where Cincinnati outlasted Houston, 35-20.
QB DONOVAN SMITH
Despite the Cougars’ losing record on the season, junior quarterback Donovan Smith has quietly been one of the better quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference. Smith has thrown for 2,303 yards in 2023 which trails only Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel among active Big 12 quarterbacks. The Nevada native has set a new career-best completion percentage of 67.9 and currently holds a touchdown to interception ratio of 18-7. Smith will need to have another solid performance in Week 11 if the Cougars plan to secure their fifth win of the season.
DB MALIK FLEMING
Fleming has been a turnover machine for Houston’s secondary this season leading the team with three interceptions. The senior defensive back has also recorded 34 tackles this season which trails his previous season best of 41 stops by seven total tackles. Fleming should have a chance to force another turnover as he gets set to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats offense which has been careless with the ball at best en route to their 0-6 start to conference play. The Georgia native should be a player to watch in the Week 11 matchup.
RB COREY KINER
Despite the Bearcats narrowly losing to UCF in Week 10, Scott Satterfield relied heavily on junior running back Corey Kiner to move the football down the field and had some success in doing so. Kiner showed a taste of consistency for Cincinnati’s offense carrying the ball 19 times for 114 yards and one score against UCF. While the struggles on the offensive side of the ball have mostly been related to the quarterback position, Kiner provides some much-needed explosiveness that could take advantage of Houston’s defense.
S DESHAWN PACE
Deshawn Pace is a man of many stats as the senior safety currently leads his team in total tackles with 59 stops this season. Pace has also recorded numerous other stats including 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and five pass breakups for the Bearcats in 2023. While Cincinnati’s defense ranks near the bottom of the Big 12 in pass defense, Pace should provide a key advantage in the secondary that could propel the Bearcats to their first conference win on Saturday.
Can Houston claw its way to a bowl game? While the 4-5 start may not be what Dana Holgorsen envisioned for his first nine games back in the Big 12, the team still has a likely path to an appearance at a bowl game. The Cougars take on Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, and UCF in their final three weeks, and if the team hopes to earn bowl eligibility, taking down Cincinnati would be a great start.
There is one storyline and one storyline only for Cincinnati this season: When will they get their first conference win? Cincinnati is the only winless team in conference play in 2023 and with a matchup with the 4-5 Houston Cougars on the schedule, a win in Week 11 is far from out of the question. Scott Satterfield’s bunch has a chance to find their way into the win column on the road in Week 11.
PREDICTION: HOUSTON 37, CINCINNATI 28
It is awfully hard to envision Cincinnati winning a football game in the Big 12 Conference after their unfortunate 0-6 start. While this game could flip in the Bearcats’ favor, I think Houston comes out on top. Donovan Smith will be the best quarterback on the field and Dana Holgorsen has enough Big 12 experience to get the job done. Houston moves on in search of bowl eligibility.