Backup quarterback Hayden Moore certainly didn't have his best game in the Hawaii Bowl, throwing for three interceptions in a 42-7 blowout against the San Diego State Aztecs after being thrust into the lineup after starter Gunner Kiel was not able to make the trip to Hawaii.
However, Moore played in other games during the Bearcats' season, and fared much better, warranting a place on this countdown. In the early-season game (Week 3) against Miami (OH), Kiel was knocked out of the game, putting Moore into action, where he got off to a rocky start, throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice, but was able to rally the team late, leading a game-winning drive.
The next week against Memphis, Moore had to come in again for an injured Kiel, where he played better, throwing 53 times and throwing for four touchdowns. Unfortunately, an interception at the end of the game would seal a Bearcats loss. However, the fact that Moore was able to keep the team in the game against Paxton Lynch and one of the best offenses in college football was highly impressive. Not to mention, Moore set the school-record for passing yards in a game with 557 in about three quarters of play.
The next week, he would get his first start, and he played admirably against Miami (FL), throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another in a 34-23 victory; a game where he led the Bearcats to 27 points in the first half, and though he struggled more in the second half, he had one more drive late in the game that sealed the victory. He started again the next week at BYU, where he struggled, completing 50% of his passes in a 38-24 loss, before settling in for "quarterback competition" with Kiel that spanned a number of weeks in the middle of season.
Finishing the season at 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, the redshirt freshman Moore clearly had an up and down season, but was thrust into the lineup several times, and performed reasonably well for a young backup. He played another strong game against UCF in garbage time, completing all but four passes in the 52-7 victory.
Moore clearly has a ways to go before he can be considered a reliable starter, but the Bearcats certainly have a player with potential, and Moore proved to be valuable, helping lead the Bearcats to several pivotal wins, games they clearly needed to win in order to secure a bowl berth. If Hayden Moore can limit his turnovers and take care of the football on a more consistent basis, he could have a future as a starter.
Highlights from Moore's record-setting performance against Memphis: