No. 17 Memphis hosts No. 18 Cincinnati in AAC title preview
No. 18 Cincinnati (10-1, 7-0 AAC, No. 19 CFP) at No. 17 Memphis (10-1, 6-1, No. 18), Friday at 3:30 p.m. EST (ABC).
Line: Memphis by 11.
Series record: Memphis 21-13.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The chance to host the American Athletic Conference title game in a week with a spot in the Cotton Bowl possibly waiting for the league champ. Cincinnati already has won the East Division, while Memphis needs a victory to win the West for a third straight season. A Memphis loss means the Tigers need a Navy loss at Houston to clinch a spot in the league title game in Cincinnati where the Bearcats have won 13 straight.
QB Brady White and Cincinnati’s pass defense. White has thrown a career-high 30 touchdown passes this season, and he’s completing 67.1% of his passes, which is 16th in the nation. White is why Memphis is averaging 292 yards passing per game. Cincinnati ranks 69th in pass defense, giving up 231.5 yards a game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cincinnati: RB Michael Warren II. He ran 24 times for 106 yards against Temple and will need to carry the load with QB Desmond Ridder limited by an injured throwing shoulder.
Memphis: RB Kenneth Gainwell. Yes, senior Patrick Taylor is back and ran for three TDs last week, but Gainwell ranks ninth nationally with 1,294 yards rushing. He’s also fourth in the country with 1,766 all-purpose yards.
FACTS & FIGURES
Cincinnati has won nine straight since only loss to Ohio State in September. … Cincinnati clinched East Division title and first spot in the AAC title game by beating Temple 15-13 despite managing only 210 yards on offense last week. … Memphis has won last three, including a 34-7 victory in Cincinnati in 2016. Cincinnati’s last win in series was 34-21 at Liberty Bowl in 2013. … Cincinnati is 21-3 over the last two seasons. … Bearcats have allowed 19.9 points per game, best in the AAC. … Memphis has 10 wins for fourth time in program history and second under coach Mike Norvell. … Memphis is 18-1 in non-Saturday games since 2014 and 9-0 at home. … Norvell is 13-1 in November and has won 12 straight in this month. … Gainwell has seven 100-yard rushing games this season. … Memphis WR Antonio Gibson ranks second in FBS averaging 22.07 yards per catch.