Pitt and Cincinnati renew the River City Rivalry after an 11-year hiatus, each team eager to go 2-0
Cincinnati (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0), Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET (The CW)
Line: Pitt favored by 7, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The “River City Rivalry” is back after an 11-year hiatus. The two schools created the trophy when they were members of the Big East Conference from 2005-12. Over a decade and multiple conference moves later, it’s back with the Bearcats now in the Big 12 (after a stint in the American Athletic Conference) and the Panthers in the ACC. Both teams looked solid in easy season-opening wins over FCS programs. Saturday presents the first litmus test for both schools.
Pitt’s secondary against Cincinnati’s group of wide receivers. The Bearcats want to spread opponents out and test them deep. The Panthers love to play press-man coverage, leaving their defensive backs on an island so they can blitz basically at will. There will be one-on-one matchups aplenty. If Cincinnati can protect QB Emory Jones, the Bearcats WRs could find plenty of room to run.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cincinnati: Jones seems to have found a home after stops at Florida and Arizona State. He put on a show during his first start, throwing for five touchdowns and running for two more during a 66-13 rout of Eastern Kentucky. The challenge will be far stiffer against a defense that is regularly among the national leaders in sacks.
Pitt freshman DL Samuel Okunlola’s teammates call him “a prodigy.” Okunlola looked the part in his first college game, collecting one of four sacks by the Panthers. Pitt is deep — as usual — along the line but Okunlola’s speed could make him a difference-maker in short bursts.
FACTS & FIGURES
Cincinnati underwent a massive overhaul in the offseason after Scott Satterfield replaced Luke Fickell as head coach. The Bearcats had just eight starters return, including only one on offense, center Gavin Gerhardt. … The Bearcats won four of the final five meetings between the schools before the series went on hiatus. … Satterfield went 1-1 against the Panthers while coaching at Louisville. … Pitt is riding a six-game winning streak dating back to last season, matching the program’s longest since a six-game run in 2009. … The Panthers limited Wofford to 126 yards last week, including minus-1 yard rushing. … Pitt QB Phil Jurkovec was steady in his first start, throwing for a touchdown and running for another. The Panthers want Jurkovec to use his legs more as he gets more comfortable. His main goal will be to stay away from Cincinnati defensive tackle Dontay Corleone, dubbed “The Godfather.” … Pitt plans to rotate running backs Rodney Hammond, Vincent Davis and C’Bo Flemister until one of them asserts themselves as the starter. The trio combined for 117 yards rushing and three scores against Wofford. … Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi spent three years as an assistant at Cincinnati from 2004-06.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll