Cincinnati to open first season in Big 12 against Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky at Cincinnati, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET (Big 12 Now on ESPN+)
Line: No line, according to FanDuel Sportsbook
Series record: Cincinnati leads 2-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Cincinnati will look to win its 22nd straight home opener, a streak that dates to an overtime win over TCU in 2002. The 2023 season will mark the Bearcats’ first under coach Scott Satterfield and their first as a member of the Big 12 Conference. Cincinnati moved from the American Athletic Conference in July. Satterfield replaced Luke Fickell (Wisconsin), the winningest coach in program history, at Cincinnati in December. Eastern Kentucky, which was picked to finish first in the FCS’ United Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll, lost both of its previous meetings against the Bearcats (2006 and 2008) by a combined margin of 71-7.
Cincinnati has 33 new scholarship players and has an offense that features only one returning starter from last season in center Gavin Gerhardt. The Bearcats’ offensive cohesion will be tested early against an Eastern Kentucky defense that placed two players on the preseason All-UAC team in defensive lineman Ryan Jackson and defensive back Franky West.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Eastern Kentucky: QB Parker McKinney, an FCS preseason All-American, led the Colonels to the FCS playoffs last season after throwing for 3,956 yards and 33 touchdowns. McKinney owns the career school records for pass attempts (1,300), completions (816), passing yards (9,718), passing touchdowns (74) and yards of total offense (11,164).
Cincinnati: QB Emory Jones is set to start for a third Power Five program. Jones started 12 games at Florida in 2021 and made seven starts at Arizona State last season. Jones brings 48 career touchdowns (33 passing, 14 rushing and one receiving) to Cincinnati. DT Dontay Corleone earned a first-team selection on the preseason AP All-America team. Corleone had 45 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles en route to earning AP third-team All-America honors a season ago.
FACTS & FIGURES
Cincinnati has won 31 of its last 32 home games. … Eastern Kentucky is seeking its eighth win over an FBS program. The Colonels’ last FBS victory came last season at Bowling Green. Eastern Kentucky defeated the Falcons 59-57 in seven overtimes. … Cincinnati WR Branden Smith returned a punt 49 yards for a TD for Louisville against Eastern Kentucky in 2021. … Eastern Kentucky scored a school-record 434 points last season. … Eastern Kentucky has seven players on its roster from the Cincinnati area.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll