If you missed out on this game, you missed out on a fun one. SMU was the clear favorite heading into the game. With the expectations in Cincinnati lowered after two tough losses to UCF and USF, if they rolled over against SMU and it would have been fine. But Cincinnati gave a tough fight at home that needed more time than what was allowed in regulation.
The first half was an explosive one. Specifically, the first quarter as both teams scored on every possession. Cincinnati opened up the scoring with a four-minute, 75 yard, drive capped off by a Hayden Moore rushing touchdown. SMU would then respond with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, capped off by an Xavier Jones run. Cincinnati would then go up 10-7 on the ensuing drive, courtesy of the Ryan Jones 28-yard field goal. But, SMU’s explosive offense had an answer yet again. They drove down the field with a mixture off all three running backs getting involved, with Ke’Mon Freeman putting SMU up 14-10.
Hayden Moore then started off the second quarter right where he left off in the first. In a predominantly passing series, Moore threw an 18-yard strike to Thomas Geddis to take the lead 17-14. SMU did not have an answer after though, as Cincinnati then intercepted Hicks’ pass. They would then take advantage of the turnover and get a field goal out of it. SMU followed the field goal with a quick drive. They primarily used Xavier Jones to lull the defense to sleep before Hicks hit Sutton on a big 33 yard pass, and again for the touchdown to cap off the drive. The next chance to score would be on a Cincinnati drive close to halftime. Ryan Jones missed a long 47 yard field goal that would’ve put Cincinnati up.
The third quarter was the only bad part of the game, and by bad I mean boring. SMU got the ball to start the second half, and got off to an ominous start. They immediately had a chance for points, but Josh Williams was unable to connect on a 50-yard field goal. SMU, on the next drive, would then recover a Hayden Moore fumble. That would turn into nothing though.
The next big possession, after a couple punts, would be by SMU. They put together a long 78 yard touchdown drive, finished by the all-american Cortland Sutton. SMU fans were hopeful that the final score would would end up with Mustangs on on top but UC had other ideas. Hayden Moore again stepped up and threw a touchdown pass to get the game within two points. It would take a two-point conversion to keep the game going. Hayden Moore would show his leadership again by passing to Devin Gray, again, for a successful two-point conversion. SMU had one chance, but could not do anything with it.
It did not take long to end the game though. SMU couldn’t really generate anything great on offense. Hicks only completed one pass, but it was a big one to Trey Quinn for 28 yards. It set up an easy Josh Williams field goal to put them up 31-28 (by the way my prediction was right on the head about SMU!). Cincinnati would have one chance to try to tie the game, but Hayden Moore (who had a pretty decent game) would throw a game ending interception. Kyran Mitchell came up with the game winner that sent Cincinnati into last place in the East division and SMU on pace with Memphis for the AAC West division title.
- Ben Hicks was outstanding going 26/37 for 295, two touchdowns, and one interception good for a 86.9 QBR.
- The offense was much more balanced this week. SMU rushed 44 times and passed 37 times.
- Xavier Jones continues to be the lead back after a good performance. Expect him to get more carries as he has proven the most effective,
- The defense had a bend, but don’t break mentality. They gave up a total of 438 yards to a struggling Cincinnati team. This area must continue to improve, as the offense won’t be able to continue to bail out the defense every game.