No. 8 Cincinnati has CFP hopes, but first comes rival Miami

Sep 2, 2021, 12:21 AM | Updated: 12:28 pm

Miami (Ohio) (0-0) at No. 8 Cincinnati (0-0), Saturday at 3:30 EDT (ESPN).

Line: Cincinnati by 22 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Miami leads 59-58-7.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

No. 8 Cincinnati has hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff and has big games on the non-conference schedule at No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 17 Indiana. But none of that will matter if the Bearcats don’t take care of business in the season-opener against rival Miami (Ohio).

KEY MATCHUP

RedHawks coach Chuck Martin spoke this week about keeping Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder in the pocket. While Ridder had the ability to beat defenses over the top, he also can change the game with his feet. Ridder had 12 rushing TDs last season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Miami: Sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert is the brother of NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Brett Gabbert passed for 384 yards and four touchdowns in two games last season. In 2019, he was named the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year.

Cincinnati: Ridder passed for more than 2,296 yards last season and 19 touchdowns while completing better than 66% of his passes. He also had 12 rushing TDs.

FACTS & FIGURES

The “Battle for the Victory Bell” is the longest collegiate football rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains, dating to 1888. It is the fifth-most played rivalry in Division I (FBS only) with 124 all-time meetings and is the oldest non-conference rivalry in the nation. … Cincinnati is the first team from outside the Power Five to be ranked in the preseason top 10 since Louisville started ninth in 2012. At No. 8, the Bearcats have the best preseason ranking for a non-Power Five or BCS conference team since Boise State was No. 5 to begin 2011. … The Bearcats return 16 starters from last year’s squad which went 9-1 and lost 24-21 to Georgia in the Peach Bowl.

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