CSJ’s 2018 Week 4 Game Preview: Ohio at Cincinnati

Ohio at Cincinnati
When: Saturday, September 22, 12:00 PM EDT
Where:Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
TV/Streaming: ESPNU / ESPN App

Ohio Bobcats (1-1, 0-0 MAC)

The rivalry is renewed with the Bearcats.  Saturday marks the first meeting of the two schools since Oct. 3, 1981, 36 years ago. The all-time series, which began in 1896, is knotted at 23-23-4 with the Bearcats besting the Bobcats in six of seven previous meetings.

Ohio was the preseason favorite of MAC coaches to win both the East and overall league titles.  But so far the Bobcats have not played like a league champion.  Ohio narrowly came back for a win over FCS Howard 36-32.  And last week, the Bobcats lost after a bye week to Virginia 45-31 in a game played in Nashville due to Hurricane Florence.

Courtesy of The Athens News

Key Player: QB Nathan Rourke, who was a second team All-MAC last year, has not produced anywhere near the level seen in 2017. The Bobcats alternated possessions between Rourke and former starter Quinton Maxwell in Week 1’s 38-32 victory after a slow start. Through two contests, Rourke has completed just 46% of his passes and  has just 57 rushing yards.  Both numbers need to improve for the dual threat signal caller if Ohio is going to stay with Cincinnati in this game.

Fantasy Bonus Baby: WR/KR  Papi White has registered 285 receiving yards and two touchdowns thus far despite poor quarterback play. He also returns punts so look for White to have a big yardage numbers in this game.

Cincinnati Bearcats (3-0, 0-0 AAC)

Cincinnati started the season with two straight road games for the 12th time, winning both games for only the second time in program history and the first time since 1898.  The Bearcats defeated UCLA and Miami (OH) (although the Miami game actually was played in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium (home of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals).

The Bearcats won its home opener last week over FCS Alabama A&M 63-7.  Cincinnati has only given up 24 points total in its three games. Cincinnati has been dominant defensively, allowing just 228.7 yards (3rd in FBS) per game and 8.0 points per game (2nd in FBS).

With a 3-0 start, Cincinnati is off to its best start since 2012.

Courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer

Key Player: QB  Desmond Ridder is in his redshirt freshman season and opened by playing his first college game (at UCLA) and UC kept it on the ground in a rainy game (Miami University). Alabama A&M offered opportunities for four UC quarterbacks to play, with Ridder throwing for 199 yards and three scores in the first quarter alone.  Given the disparity in rushing and passing so far, look for Ohio to force the passing game and how Ridder performs will likely determine the fate in this game.

Fantasy Bonus Baby: RB Michael Warren II leads the nation’s 16th in FBS rushing offense with 311 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Warren is tied for second nationally with his six rushing scores.  Look for him to find the end zone again in this game and to put up some good yardage marks in this game.

Fearless Prediction: This out-of-conference in-state renewed rivalry game should be a fairly low scoring game.  With an inconsistent Ohio offense and a strong Cincinnati defense, Ohio likely will not muster up too many points in this contest. Cincinnati’s offense being one-dimensional so far will need to open the passing game and while it may struggle at times still should be capable of putting up a few scores on an Ohio defense that is not real strong.  That equates to a Cincinnati victory and I will take them by 10.  Cincinnati 27, Ohio 17

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