Cincinnati makes its debut in the Big 12 with a tough matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma, which has dominated the conference for years. The Bearcats moved from the Group of Five’s American Athletic Conference on July 1.
The Bearcats have lost three times to the Sooners in all-time meetings but hope to reverse that trend this weekend. This is Oklahoma’s final season in the Big 12 before they head to the Southeastern Conference in 2024.
This rivalry game leads off a quadruple header of other conference action featuring three Pac-12 matchups Saturday on FOX.
Big Noon Saturday kicks off at 10 a.m. ET followed by No. 16 Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati at noon ET, No. 22 UCLA vs. No. 11 Utah at 3:30 p.m. ET, then at 7 p.m. ET, No. 14 Oregon State travels to No. 21 Washington State, and in the nightcap, No. 5 USC heads to the desert to face Arizona State.
No. 16 Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati
Cincinnati (2-1) will get tested by a team that has been the standard in the Big 12 for the better part of 30 years.
Oklahoma (3-0) has won 14 Big 12 championships in the league’s first 27 years, and no Big 12 program has won more than three.
Cincinnati takes on a familiar opponent in Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel, who threw for 540 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions in two games against the Bearcats in 2019 and 2020.
Quarterback Dillon Gabriel #8 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws a short pass to the sideline against the SMU Mustangs in the third quarter at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 9, 2023 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty I
According to the Associated Press, Gabriel leads the FBS in completion percentage (.825) and ranks second in passing efficiency (220.4) this season.
The Sooners have won eight of its last 10 Big 12 openers. But Oklahoma, under then-first-year head coach Brent Venables, lost their conference opener last season, falling to Kansas State at home.
Oklahoma and Cincinnati have been among the winningest programs in college football since 2018. According to the AP, the Sooners and Bearcats entered the season as two of only seven teams who have won at least 50 games over that period.
No. 22 UCLA vs. No. 11 Utah
Utah (3-0) sits on the cusp of a top 10 ranking after earning victories over No. 25 Florida and Baylor. The Utes have allowed three total touchdowns in three games and rank second among Pac-12 teams in total defense (270.7 ypg) and scoring defense (10.3 ppg), the AP reports.
But UCLA (3-0) is a formidable opponent for Utah and could be a problem for them again. The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in rushing offense (270.3 ypg), scoring defense (10.0 ppg) and passes intercepted (six). But, UCLA hasn't won in Salt Lake City since 2015.
Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson (13) steps across the goal line for a touchdown to tie the game the college football game between Baylor Bears and Utah Utes on September 9, 2023, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by D
Cameron Rising is still a game-time decision for Utah, and two freshman quarterbacks could possibly hit the field Saturday.
Nate Johnson earned his first career start in Utah’s 31-7 win over Weber State. Johnson threw for a career-high 193 yards and a touchdown.
UCLA’s Dante Moore has played well in two starts racking up 472 yards and five touchdowns. Moore is attempting to become the first freshman quarterback to beat Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium since former Oregon QB Justin Herbert in 2016, the AP noted.
No. 14 Oregon State vs. No. 21 Washington State
Washington State and Oregon State are the last two teams left as the Pac-12 collapsed.
The opener to the Pac-12 schedule for both teams is huge in the bigger picture for this season.
Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei #5 of the Oregon State Beavers hands off the ball against the San Diego State Aztecs during the second half at Reser Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
Oregon State (3-0) will face its first test after beating two Mountain West programs and an FCS school on their undefeated run through nonconference play. Oregon State also has next week’s home showdown with No. 11 Utah on the horizon, the AP reported.
Washington State (3-0) has a chance to build on the first two weeks of the season, when they thumped Colorado State on the road before returning home to upset No. 19 Wisconsin.
Oregon State QB DJ Uiagalelei gets his first big road test in the Pac-12 against the Cougars Saturday night. Uiagalelei completed 14 of 30 passes and was intercepted twice last week against San Diego State.
Washington State QB Cameron Ward has thrown for almost 1,000 yards, is completing 72% of his passes and has nine touchdowns with zero interceptions in three games, according to the AP.
No. 5 USC vs. Arizona State
Quarterback Caleb Williams has been stellar after winning the Heisman Trophy in 20222, and USC has won by at least 27 points in each of its three games.
Now USC (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) hits the road for the first time to take on a struggling Arizona State team. The Trojans can’t afford to slip up against the Sun Devils knowing they have a highly-anticipated matchup at No. 19 Colorado next weekend.
Quarterback Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans scrambles in the pocket in the game against the Stanford Cardinal at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-O
Williams has played outstanding football this season passing for 878 yards and 12 TDs in eight quarters over three games. He's second in the FBS in touchdown passes and fifth in completion percentage at 78.6%, the AP noted.
Arizona State (1-2) had to play without starting quarterback Jaden Rashada against Fresno State last week due to an undisclosed injury.
And the hits kept coming for the Sun Devils. Backup Trenton Bourguet injured his foot on the game's second drive, and Drew Pyne went down with a leg injury, according to the AP.
That left it up to fourth-stringer Jacob Conover, a former four-star recruit who transferred from BYU. Conover threw for 89 yards on 6-of-16 passing with two interceptions. Pyne may be able to play, but Conover could get the start for the Sun Devils against the Trojans.
USC has arguably the best receiving group in the nation. Tahj Washington leads USC with nine catches for 233 yards and three touchdowns, averaging nearly 26 yards per catch, the AP noted. Fellow receiver Duce Robinson has eight catches for 186 yards, and Brenden Rice also has three touchdowns.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Washington, D.C.