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The Bearcats have been one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses so far this season, with Cincinnati averaging 622.5 total yards per game, ranking them third in the nation. Quarterback Gunner Kiel is the leader of this group but suffered an injury that will force backup quarterback Hayden Moore into action again this week. Moore showed that he was up for the task in a 557 passing yard performance in the loss against Memphis last Thursday night. The Hurricanes will not only have to watch out for Moore slinging the ball around, but also need to hamper down on the defensive line against the run, as the Bearcats use a committee of running backs averaging 4.9 yards per carry on the season.
For the Miami Hurricanes, quarterback Brad Kaaya started off hot against Nebraska, throwing for 379 yards and two touchdowns before the Hurricanes had to hold on at the end with a game-winning field goal in overtime. Kaaya certainly hopes he can repeat his performance from what he did last year against the Bearcats, when he threw for 286 yards and four total touchdowns in the win. Kaaya has the talent to dissect this vulnerable defense, as the Bearcats rank 68th in the nation in passing defense (217 ypg to opponents) and were torched last week against Memphis for 412 through the air last week.
Two things for the Hurricanes to watch though coming into this game: turnovers and red-zone chances. Last week, the Hurricanes had eight chances in the red-zone, scoring on seven of them. However, five of those scores ended up being field goals from kicker Michael Badgley, including three under 30 yards. Getting points on the board is crucial but Head Coach Al Golden would certainly like his dynamic offense to get it into the endzone instead of only field goals. Furthermore, going up against a proven offense that can score in Cincinnati, Miami might have to put up points to come away with the win. But, with a Bearcats defense that that is giving up 32 points per game, the Hurricanes could have several chances Thursday night.
Secondly, turnovers have been a real issue for the Bearcats, as they already have nine interceptions and five fumbles on the year. With the Hurricanes coming off a three interception performance of their own, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will be looking to create a scheme that could replicate that same performance.
One player to watch for in this game is running back Joe Yearby. He has taken over the job duties this year since Duke Johnson left for the NFL and Yearby is coming off 125 yard game against Nebraska. Last year, the young back had eight rushes for 113 total yards against Cincinnati, averaging 14 yards per carry and will be looking for another chance to dismantle the Bearcats on the ground.
The Miami Hurricanes are currently on an 11-game winning streak against the Bearcats and owns an 11-1 overall record, with the last Cincinnati win coming back in 1947.