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Friday, September 22, 2023


Gaining an Edge: Breaking down the Cougars, Bearcats

Chance Allen

The Cougars are ready to score 3-0 when facing the University of Cincinnati Bearcats on Thursday. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Although they have only played two games this season, the Cougars will go into Thursday with the 11th-ranked defense and the 48th-ranked offense in the nation.

Meanwhile, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats sport the 95th-ranked defense and the 50th-ranked offense.

The following analysis is based on overall stats to determine who would be the presumptive favorite in each matchup.

Cougars rushing attack versus Bearcats run defense

In two games, the Cougars have racked up 470 total yards on the ground, but over 80 percent of those came in the game against the Lamar University Cardinals.

On the flip side, the Bearcats defense has given up 140 yards per game to opponents such as the University of Tennessee at Martin and Purdue University.

Sophomore running back Duke Catalon and senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. should not have a problem carving up the Bearcats defensive front and breaking off for huge plays.

Edge: Cougars

Bearcats ground game versus Cougars rush defense

The Bearcats have rushed for over 400 yards this season behind a committee approach. Senior running back Tion Green is the bruiser who can gain the tough yards, while junior running back Mike Boone is a slightly quicker and more explosive back.

The duo will be asked to get yardage against the No. 3 rushing defense in the country.

Earlier this week, Cougars sophomore defensive end Jerard Carter said that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando writes “STOP THE RUN, GET THE BALL” on a whiteboard daily.

Behind Orlando, the Cougars boast one of the best fronts in the nation and will be ready to stuff the run.

Edge: Cougars

Cougars passing offense versus Bearcats secondary

Cougars’ passing stats are slightly skewed since Ward did not play in the previous game, but the team is still averaging 225.5 yards per game.

In the game against the University of Oklahoma Sooners, Ward torched the team as he finished the game with 321 yards.

With Catalon in the backfield, Ward should not be expected to throw as much. But when he is called on to do so, he should be able to light up the Bearcats passing defense, which is the 100th in the nation.

Edge: Cougars

Bearcats passing offense versus Cougars defensive backs

As it has been noted all season, the departure of several starters depleted the Cougars secondary.

Although inexperience was a concern, the Cougars are giving up fewer than 200 yards through the air per game. However, the Cardinals game should be taken into account when basing the decision solely on stats.

Against the Bearcats last season, the Houston defense was incinerated. They gave up a season-high 523 yards to senior backup quarterback Gunner Kiel. Sophomore starting quarterback Hayden Moore will be in action this week and will look to post similar numbers.

Junior receiver Devin Gray and senior receiver Nate Cole lead the Bearcats passing attack. The duo are big, physical and responsible for over 60 percent of the passing game.

While it is unlikely that the Cougars will give up over 500 yards again, they will have trouble stopping the Bearcats’ receivers.

Edge: Bearcats

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