Cincinnati Bearcats vs. SMU Mustangs Preview

Will the SMU faithful be rewarded with their first win of the season on Saturday? Photo Courtesy: Joseph Dowling
Will the SMU faithful be rewarded with their first win of the season on Saturday? Photo Courtesy: Joseph Dowling

By Zach Walker

Game Info
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. SMU Mustangs
Saturday – October 18 – 2:30 pm
TV: CBS Sports Network
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas

Records Before the Game
SMU Mustangs: 0-5 (0-1 in AAC)
Cincinnati Bearcats: 2-3 (0-1 in AAC)

Two players for both teams, to watch

SMU Mustangs
QB Garrett Krstich
– Krstich played a titan of a game in the Mustangs’ conference opener, 67 passes with 62.7 completion percentage. The Mustangs got to get that same sort of game from Krstich against the nation’s last ranked total defense. I know that it’s the play calling, but getting the ball downfield is how to keep the defense on its heels. Finding Darius Joseph on short routes and having Der’rick Thompson as the deep man is swell, but there needs to be more diversity in the route assignments, get Jeremiah Gaines operating the middle of the field, Nate Halverson working down the sidelines.

CB Shakiel Randolph – Look at that, “Kiel” is right there in the name, the name of the Bearcats quarterback. I’m not sure if the whole “long” corner craze in the NFL is going to last, and the “long” corner is the long arm, tall corner back. But if it’s not a phase, Randolph will catch the eye of a defensive back coach for some team in the NFL. He’s listed at 6 foot 4 inches as a cornerback, and that’s something. Randolph had the first interception for the Mustangs this season, snagging Kenny Hill’s first of his season. Randolph and the other corners have played pretty well with contesting passes in the air and are going to have chances this weekend.

Cincinnati Bearcats
QB Gunner Kiel
– Kiel is a transfer from Notre Dame and has thrown a ton of passes thus far this season, averaging more than 38 throws a game. His status for the game is up in the air, as he is questionable for the game with a chest injury. If he can’t go, it’s back to Munchie Legaux. Kiel had a dueler’s game at Miami last weekend, 57 throws, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. But, Kiel and the Bearcats can really move the ball through the air, and the Mustangs secondary has to be ready for the ball to be around them.

WR Chris Moore – Moore torched the Ohio State Buckeyes, and personally I love that, but since his monster game, he’s become more of a possession receiver. Moore has the eye of Kiel, but needs to get more touches. Not to say there aren’t other good receivers, but Shaq Washington is the Bearcats’ best possession receiver, Shaq is a 5 foot 9 chain mover, and should help free Moore up to get back to catching a ball 40 yards downfield and taking it the rest of the 25 yards for the score.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Welcome, y’all, to the most winnable game of the Mustangs’ season, to date. Although, the Bearcats can really throw the ball around the field, their rushing game isn’t much to boast about. The Bearcats actually rank dead last in total defense and with the way that the Mustangs moved ball and stuck it to the back of the Top-25 ranked East Carolina for the majority of the game. SMU needs to change nothing from what they did against East Carolina, maybe pepper in some more shots downfield, or more of those sweet screen passes to KC Nlemchi, the Mustangs can win this one.

Prediction: Cincinnati 35 – SMU 38: Both teams are going to score points, but if the Mustangs have the ball late in this game, I’m supremely confident that the Mustangs can pull their first win of the season.