UCF, Cincinnati desperate for first Big 12 victory

Field Level Media

October 31, 2023 at 8:50 am.

The Big 12 has not been kind to conference newcomers UCF and Cincinnati.

In their first year in the league, neither squad has come up with a Big 12 win.

That will change on Saturday when the Bearcats (2-6, 0-5) play host to the Knights (3-5, 0-5).

Both programs have enjoyed glory years of recent vintage.

UCF, for example, went 13-0 in 2017 and 35-4 over a three-year span that also included 2018 and 2019. The Knights entered this season with seven straight bowl appearances.

As for Cincinnati, the Bearcats became the first non-Power 5 program to qualify for the College Football Playoff when they did so in 2021. The Bearcats have played in five straight bowl games, going 53-11 during that span.

Both teams figure to have their bowl streaks end this season … unless either can stage a dramatic comeback.

Cincinnati has lost six straight games — its longest skid since 1998.

New Bearcats coach Scott Satterfield benched sixth-year quarterback Emory Jones in favor of Brady Lichtenberg in the fourth quarter last week during a 45-13 setback against Oklahoma State.

In three games this year, Lichtenberg is 10-for-16 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jones has 1,601 passing yards, 13 TD passes and nine picks this season.

Satterfield didn’t say who would start at quarterback this week, but the coach wasn’t ruling anything out.

“Guys who are making plays need to be on the field,” Satterfield said. “(Lichtenberg) sparked the guys a little bit (against the Cowboy).”

Satterfield also mentioned freshman wide receiver Barry Jackson Jr. as a player who likely will get more playing time. Jackson has one catch for 65 yards and a score this year.

UCF, meanwhile, has lost five straight games, its longest skid since going 0-12 in 2015. The Knights fell 41-28 to visiting West Virginia last week. Knights fifth-year quarterback John Rhys Plumlee had four turnovers in that game, including three interceptions.

“Nobody’s more disappointed than I am,” UCF coach Gus Malzahn said on Monday. “Cincinnati is in a similar spot than us (winless in the league).

“We’ve lost five in a row. That’s new territory for me. We have to do whatever it takes to win.”

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