|1:00 PM PT2:00 PM MT3:00 PM CT4:00 PM ET9:00 PM GMT5:00 AM 北京时间2:00 PM MST4:00 PM EST, Dec. 4, 2021|
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio Attendance: 37,978
No. 4 Cincinnati looks to make CFP case vs. No. 21 Houston
Houston Cougars at Cincinnati Bearcats
- These two teams have not met in an AAC Championship nor this season. Houston holds the overall series edge, 15-12, but Cincinnati has won seven of the last nine matchups, including a 38-10 win last season.
- This is the third straight AAC Championship for Cincinnati (lost to Memphis in 2019 and beat Tulsa last season). The Bearcats are one of two undefeated FBS teams this season (Georgia). Cincinnati's 32 wins since the beginning of 2019 are tied for third in the FBS.
- Desmond Ridder needs 95 more pass yards to become the second Bearcat to reach 10,000 for his career (Gino Guidugli). Last week, Ridder set the AAC record for most career pass plus scrimmage TD with 113 (84 pass, 28 rush, one rec). Last season against Houston, he had 162 yards passing and 103 yards rushing with four total touchdowns.
- Houston won the first AAC Championship in 2015, defeating Temple, but have not appeared in one since. The Cougars are one-win shy of tying a school record (12 wins in 2011). They have won 11 in a season four times total (1973, 1979, 2015 and 2021).
- Nathaniel Dell is tied for the AAC lead with 11 TD receptions this season and is one of two AAC players with 1,000 rec yards. He has at least one TD reception in five of the last six games. Dell had three catches for 60 receiving yards versus Cincinnati last season.
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Host Cincinnati is playing Houston for more than just the American Athletic Conference championship on Saturday.
The No. 4 Bearcats (12-0, 8-0 AAC) hope a victory over the No. 21 Cougars (11-1, 8-0) will be enough to earn a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff, whose participants will be selected Sunday.
No school outside a Power 5 Conference (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and Southeastern Conference) has played in the CFP since its inception for the 2014 season.
That stat doesn't concern fifth-year Bearcats coach Luke Fickell.
"I don't over-worry about all the other things," he said Monday. "It's never been about anything other than playing for a championship."
Fickell would like to keep the outside noise from distracting his team, but it might be harder with rumors swirling that he is a contender for the Notre Dame job after Brian Kelly left suddenly to become the coach at LSU on Monday.
"It's the same way I am with rankings," Fickell said Tuesday. "It's the same way I am unfortunately with a lot of other things -- with the exception of recruiting -- that I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it."
Houston wouldn't mind being the spoiler after being overlooked because of all the attention focused on Cincinnati. The Cougars can match a school record with their 12th straight victory and have won each of their past six road games, including a 45-17 decision at UConn last week.
Cincinnati has won 26 straight home games, a fact not lost on Houston coach Dana Holgorsen.
"I'm not going to lie, I wish this was at a neutral site," he said Monday. "If the game was played in Houston, I think they would say the same thing.
"You'd rather have a neutral site as opposed to going and being the visiting team, especially when both teams are 8-0 right now, but that's neither here nor there."
The Bearcats are in their third straight AAC championship. They lost 29-24 at Memphis in 2019 and defeated Tulsa 27-24 in Cincinnati last year.
Houston's last championship was 24-13 win vs. Temple in the inaugural AAC title game in 2015.
The only blemish on Houston's record this season was 38-21 loss to Texas Tech in the opener.
The Saturday matchup features teams that get after it on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati and Houston join Alabama and Georgia as the four FBS schools to rank top-10 nationally in scoring offense and total defense.
Houston ranks 10th in points per game (38.8) and allows 288.6 yards per contest, which ranks sixth.
The Bearcats are eighth in both scoring (39.6 points per game) and total defense (303.3 yards per game).
Both team's quarterbacks, Houston's Clayton Tune (3,013 yards) and Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder (3,000), have compiled gaudy passing numbers.
"It's going to be a big challenge," Holgorsen said of facing Cincinnati. "I mean, they're deserving of where they're currently ranked at the CFP, probably got to be ranked higher in my opinion based on what they've done here over the last couple years and the quality of football that they've played."
Cincinnati beat visiting Houston 38-20 last season, but the Cougars hold a 15-12 edge in the all-time series.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 1, 2021