The history between Cincinnati and UCF in football in not lengthy. Their first meeting was in 2015 and they have played each of the last 4 years, with UCF holding a 3-1 all-time series lead.
Let’s look back at what happened in each of those 4 games.
2015 - The One
Background: The first meeting between schools came in 2015 and is Cincinnati’s only victory to date, over UCF. This was the year before Scott Frost was hired at UCF and their recent run of success began. Knights finished that season 0-12. Cincinnati finished 7-6 and ended the year with a loss in the Hawaii Bowl.
Result: Cincinnati won 52-7
Recap: QB Gunner Kiel was amazing. He was perfect! Literally. He completed all 15 of his passes and threw for 319 yards and 5 TDs. Off the bench, Hayden Moore completed 11 of 15 passes, throwing for 154 yards, TD, INT.
The six touchdown passes were caught by Johnny Holton (2), Shaq Washington (2), Chris Moore, and DJ Dowdy.
The only negative from this game is that it produced a pretty ugly set of uniforms for Cincinnati.
Was never a fan of the Nippert celebration helmets, but at least with the red Nippert jerseys they made sense. Here, they just look completely goofy with the all black jersey combination.
2016 - Fire Tuberville
Background: 2016 was Scott Frost’s first season at UCF and the Knights finished 6-7. Cincinnati finished 4-8 in what would be Tommy Tuberville’s final season.
Result: UCF won 24-3
Recap: The Bearcats first trip to Orlando ended without a touchdown. UCF QB McKenzie Milton, than a true freshman, completed 22 of 34 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati used two QBs - Hayden Moore and Gunner Kiel - and both struggled. Moore started and completed 13-25 passes and Kiel completed 6-17. Both threw an interception. In addition to the two interceptions, there was also a lost fumble, giving Cincinnati 3 turnovers, to 0 for UCF. Moore was sacked 5 times by UCF’s defense.
2017 - Lightning
Background: UCF finished the 2017 season 12-0 and won the Peach Bowl over Auburn. They also declared themselves the National Champions. Cincinnati finished 4-8 in Luke Fickell’s first season at Cincinnati.
Result: UCF won 51-23. This game was cut short due to a lightning delay in the fourth quarter. Both coaches and schools agreed there was no need to wait 30 minutes and resume play.
Recap: Thank god for the lightning, huh? UCF put up 51 points through 3 quarters, before the game was called.
It took UCF two possessions and a total of five plays to score two quick touchdowns in the first 5 minutes of the game. They led 20-7 after the first quarter and extended that lead to 30-7, before Cincinnati was able to add some points and trailed 37-16 at halftime.
Cincinnati doubled UCF in time of possession (30:00 - 15:00). The difference is Cincinnati had long-drawn out drives that produced nothing and UCF needed just a few plays each drive to score.
Of UCF’s 7 touchdowns, 5 of them were plays of 20+ yards, 3 were 40+ and the first two TDs went for 54 yards and 79 yards.
2018 - College Gameday
Background: UCF won their second straight AAC championship and finished 12-1, losing their first game since 2016 in the Fiesta Bowl against LSU. Cincinnati finished 11-2, their best season since 2009.
The scene for this game was awesome. ESPN’s College Gameday was in Orlando on UCF’s campus as UCF was 9-0 and came in ranked 11th. Cincinnati was 9-1 and ranked #24.
Result: UCF won 38-13 in a Primetime game on ABC, with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler on the call.
Recap: This was UCF’s moment. Everything they had worked for was put in the spotlight and a loss would have destroyed all of their progress.
The game started out slowly for Cincinnati, with the crowd noise clearly a factor on the first drive. It was certainly hard for Cincinnati whose road games to this point included empty stadiums at UCLA, SMU, UConn, and Temple. So crowd noise hadn’t been a thing all year for Cincinnati and the Spectrum Stadium, aka the Bounce House, was definitely bouncing.
UCF bounce house college game day v Cincinnati pic.twitter.com/LD82DmVr4j— UCF Jeff (@knight_srq) July 23, 2019
Bearcats overcame a few penalties and managed to move the ball, but were forced to punt. But on UCF’s first play from scrimmage, in their own endzone, Malik Clements sacked McKenzie Milton, the ball came out and Kimoni Fitz jumped on it in the endzone for a touchdown. UCF went three-and-out on their next possession, putting Cincinnati in a position to really take advantage of the game. However, their second drive would end in a missed field goal. From there, UCF would score touchdowns on three of their next four possessions, to take a 21-6 lead into halftime. In the second half, UCF scored another 17 straight (38-0 run overall), before a late UC touchdown.
QB Desmond Ridder played one of his worst games of the season, completing a season low 42.3% of his passes (11-26). This was one of two games where Michael Warren II did not run for a touchdown (SMU was the other).
What are your expectations for the 2019 game?