The long awaited 2019 American Athletic Conference championship rematch is here as the University of Cincinnati (UC) takes on the University of Memphis on Oct. 31 at noon on ESPN and ESPN+.
Memphis was responsible for two of UC's three losses last season, which commenced back-to-back from the previous regular-season game to the conference championship. Moreover, the Tigers have won each of the universities' last five meetings.
As the Bearcats seek to end Memphis' reign of victories, they will also look to continue their 16-game home winning streak, one of the longest active streaks in college football. The game marks the beginning of three-game home stand.
After an impressive 42-13 triumph over then No. 16, now No. 22, Southern Methodist University last week, UC was moved up to No. 7 in both the national AP and coaches' poll.
The ranking is the highest mark achieved by the Bearcats since 2009 when they held the No. 4 spot before falling to the Tim Tebow led Florida Gators.
Memphis lost its spot in the rankings after being defeated by SMU earlier this year. However, the Tigers are right on the cusp of the AP rankings, receiving the most votes (105) outside of the top-25 after defeating Temple University 41-29 last week.
An important distinction between the AAC rivals this season is their defenses.
The Cincinnati defense is among the top 20 in all of college football for every statistic, excluding sacks. Among the most eye-grabbing of them are their 12.5 points allowed per game, the fifth-best in the FBS among universities that have played four or more games.
Sophomore cornerback Ahmad Gardner has been a big part of the minimal points allowed. The Detroit native is tied for the most interceptions in FBS so far this year (3), already tying his amount from last season. Beating last year's mark was a personal goal for Gardner heading into the season. Gardner has also not allowed a single touchdown this year.
While the Bearcats have allowed 302.5 yards per game on average, the Tigers have allowed a whopping 567.8 yards per game, the worst in all of college football. The majority of those yards allowed have been through the air (440.3 avg).
The saving grace for Memphis' atrocious defense this season has been their high-powered offense, which ranks fifth in yards gained per game with 548.8, led by quarterback Brady White. White's 164.0 passer rating is among the best in the NCAA among those who have completed over 100 passes this season.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati's quarterback, Desmond Ridder, is coming off a week in which he earned the AAC Offensive Player of the Week and Davey O'Brian National Quarterback of the Week awards.
Ridders 179 rushing yards were the most ever by a UC quarterback in a single game, and his 91-yard rush in the fourth quarter sealed what would become a blowout victory for the Bearcats.