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Cincinnati Bearcats Championship Preview: Memphis Football Q&A

Memphis Tigers beat writer answers some questions about last Friday’s game and expectations for Saturday’s rematch.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Memphis Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati will play Memphis for the second time in eight days this Saturday. Both teams will be making plenty of adjustments and now have a good read on each other.

We reached out to Jonah Jordan, who is the Memphis Tigers football beat writer for The Daily Memphian and formerly of @GoTigers247.

Jonah was kind enough to give his thoughts on what type of adjustments he would make and what it will take for each team to win on Saturday.

1. What is the one big adjustment you think Memphis needs to make in order to win this game?

Wide receiver Antonio Gibson caught two passes for eight yards and Kenneth Gainwell was the only Tiger, outside of Damonte Coxie, to catch more than two passes. He did that for 20 yards. The down field passing attack can be more efficient rather than relying on Coxie to make plays.

Gibson, Gainwell and Kedarian Jones can get more involved as can Calvin Austin III who has had a quiet few games.

2. What adjustments can the Bearcats make to avenge last week’s loss?

The Bearcats didn’t have a receiver record over 100 receiving yards against Memphis even after TJ Carter went down with an injury. Nine different receivers caught 20 total passes for 229 yards. Quarterback Ben Bryant spread the ball around, but only hit a few long passing plays.

A weak secondary is the Achilles heel of this Memphis team. Carter being down complicates matters even more. Alec Pierce may be able to find long passing plays in Saturday’s rematch.

3. What did you see from the Bearcats last Friday that worries you about Saturday?

Cincinnati somewhat dominated time of possession. The Tigers ran under 30 plays in the first half of action while the Bearcats put together three drives of over four minutes in the opening two frames.

The Bearcats dominating the ball can hurt a team who wants to score as fast as possible. Getting in a hole against the Cincinnati defense could be dangerous.

4. Was there something that you felt Memphis did poorly on Friday, that Bearcats fans should be worried about?

Memphis only rushed for one touchdown in the win over Cincinnati. Antonio Gibson’s 29-yard touchdown run sealed the win for the Tigers in a sense. Kenneth Gainwell and Gibson combined for 162 yards, but nobody rushed for 100 yards and the longest rushing play was for 32 yards.

Patrick Taylor was stuffed for 25 yards on 10 attempts. Memphis can do a lot more in the run game against the Bearcats. They can produce more long runs and more touchdowns.

5. If [blank] happens, Memphis will win.

If Memphis wins the turnover battle they’ll win the game. That means turning Ben Bryan or Desmond Ridder, whichever one plays, over once or twice. Adam Fuller brought the pressure in the second half of the 34-24 win which rattled Bryant into a fumble and two interceptions.

That also means Brady White can’t have anymore miscues. No interceptions or fumbles so the Tigers can maximize every opportunity with the ball.

6. If [blank] happens, Cincinnati will win.

If Brady White is consistently sacked and chased around the pocket Cincinnati has a chance to win the game. They need to pressure him into poor decisions and making errant throws into a very athletic, play-making secondary.

Bonus question 7 - If Cincinnati wins, in your opinion, do they deserve to go to the Cotton Bowl over Boise State and Appalachian State?

Whoever wins the American Athletic Conference Championship Game should make it to the Cotton Bowl. Schedule plus how they have won games makes it obvious that Cincinnati SHOULD jump Boise and Appalachian State, but will they? With how the committee treats AAC teams, it’s up in the air.