It was a match up of two former AAC foes meeting for the first time as members of the Big 12 as Houston hosted Cincinnati on Saturday night. Cincinnati was coming off a tough two-point home loss to UCF, while Houston had gone on the road and beat Baylor by one point in overtime. The Bearcats went on the road as an underdog and walked away with a comfortable 24-14 win over the Cougars.
Here are three thoughts on the game.
Corey Kiner is quietly having one of the better offensive seasons in the Big 12 that we probably aren’t talking enough about. He carried the Cincinnati offense on Saturday night, finishing with 121 rushing yards and two scores on 19 carries. His biggest play came in the second quarter on a 62-yard run that then set up his one-yard touchdown run that broke a 7-7 tie in a lead the Bearcats would never relinquish. He added the third touchdown of the game in the second half for the Bearcats, who picked up their first Big 12 victory since joining the league.
Cincinnati has been one of the least productive offenses in the Big 12, so there haven’t been a ton of opportunities for Kiner, but he still is averaging over five yards per carry and nearly 90 yards per game, which ranks well inside the Top 10 in the conference. Looking ahead to next season, since that’s what most Cincinnati fans are doing, Kiner can be one of the better backs in the Big 12, if the team can build an offense around him and fellow back Myles Montgomery.
Donovan Smith’s Rough Night
Donovan Smith had thrown for at least 225 yards in every game except for the Kansas State game when he threw for 88 (41-0 loss). Saturday night was not a good one for Smith, who finished 16/28 for 102 yards (50 on his first nine drives), with two touchdowns and a back-breaking three interceptions. Smith also led the team in rushing yards with 88, so in fairness, the offense wasn’t doing much around him.
The three interceptions only led to three points for the Bearcats, but it was still a rough night all around for Smith and this offense. Smith has now thrown seven interceptions in his last four games, a stretch in which the Cougars are 1-3.
Houston, Do We Have a Problem?
With the loss, Houston is now 4-6 overall and has to win its final two games to get to a bowl game. That won’t be easy with Oklahoma State and UCF on deck for the Cougars. And if they finish 4-8, which is entirely possible, does Dana Holgorsen‘s seat start warming at all?
I don’t know the answer, but I would guess it’s no, at this point. There was always going to be a learning curve into the Big 12, as we are seeing for all the new schools. And leadership has been solidly behind Holgorsen publicly.
That being said, if this is the kind of crowd that UH keeps drawing, there might be a problem sooner than later. Yuck.
Houston Fans 👎👎 pic.twitter.com/UEEiKhYr9v— Barstool Big12 (@BarstoolBig12) November 12, 2023