Caleb Taylor | Staff Commentator/Reporter
This Black Friday the Bearcats are looking for a deal ending with them hosting the American Athletic Conference championship game. This is the first game since the UCF upset that the Bearcats are not the favorite. Friday’s game has the makeup and caliber of the real championship game. UC has already secured the East division, and the Memphis Tigers are entering the game first in the West division. If Cincinnati would like to play one last game in Nippert, they are going to need to play their best game of the season.
Cincinnati survived another close matchup last week. Three of the Bearcats last four games have been decided by three points or less. In what can only be described as one of the best games of the season the Bearcats came out on top 15-13 over a strong Temple team and secured the AAC East division. The difference was a Coby Bryant blocked PAT return for 98 yards. Sam Crosa was an important player yet again going two for three and also making a PAT, accounting for seven of the Bearcats 13 points. Running Back Michael Warren II (Junior) would score again for the other six points. Warren added 106 yards for his fifth 100-yard game of the season. Quarterback Desmond Ridder (Sophomore) struggled going 9-for-25 and throwing another interception, his eighth of the season.
The defense and special teams continue to be strengths for the Bearcats. Junior Safety Darrick Forrest added his third interception of the season. As said earlier, Coby Bryant ran back a blocked PAT. The defense will need to come up big again Friday afternoon.
Memphis enters Friday ranked 18th in the country, one spot above UC. They boast a 10-1 record and a 6-1 record in the conference, dropping a game only to Temple by the score of 30-28. Memphis relies heavily on their high powered offense putting up 42.2 points per game. Quarterback Brady White (Junior) has thrown for 3,074 yards this season and 30 touchdowns. Another weapon for the Tigers offense is Freshman Running Back Kenneth Gainwell who has nearly 1,300 yards on the season and 12 scores. As a team, Memphis is putting up 488.2 yards per game, making it easy to see why they are playing the part of favorite this week.
UC is allowing 231 passing yards per game, so this week the secondary is going to have to step up to win. Memphis has a very balanced defense not giving up too many passing yards over rushing, which means Desmond Ridder will have to throw the ball better this week if the Bearcats want one last game at Nippert. The defense will need to play their best game of the year and keep Memphis off the scoreboard.
To watch this exciting matchup, head over to ABC at 3:30 p.m., or for those of you shopping tune into 700WLW.