There are a lot of firsts taking place for the Cincinnati football team this weekend.
The Bearcats begin their first season as a member of the Big 12 Conference with a nonleague matchup with visiting Eastern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
It also marks the Cincinnati debut for coach Scott Satterfield, who arrived after previously coaching at Appalachian State and Louisville.
“I know our players will feed off of the excitement and the atmosphere and it’s just really inspirational to those guys and they’ll continue to bring it every play,” Satterfield said. “I want to make sure we’re putting a great product on the field that’s going to be very competitive and it’s going to make some plays that the people are going to be excited about.”
Eastern Kentucky coach Walt Wells acknowledged the historical impact of the contest for Cincinnati due to the move to a Power 5 conference.
“A huge game for them, for their fan base,” he said.
Cincinnati has won its past 21 home openers. However, the Bearcats had an overall home-field winning streak of 31 games end in their final home outing of 2022, falling in overtime to Tulane.
The Bearcats will go with well-travelled Emory Jones as their starting quarterback. He has previously started games for Florida and Arizona State.
Cincinnati’s only returning starter on offense is center Gavin Gerhardt.
Eastern Kentucky has quarterback Parker McKinney, a preseason Football Championship Subdivision All-American, directing its offense.
“I think it’s certainly going to be a test for our defense,” Satterfield said. “If you give this quarterback time, he can pick you apart. We have to be able to create some pressure there and get him off his spot in that pocket.”
Eastern Kentucky is a member of the new United Athletic Conference after spending last season in the ASUN.
“I like where we are with our team currently and coming off training camp,” Wells said.
He also said there are potential pitfalls going into a game against Cincinnati.
“Inexperience is something that says a lot about our football team,” Wells said. “That being said, we are experienced at the quarterback position.”
The Colonels are 3-2 in their past five openers and 54-50-6 all-time in the first games of a season.
The Bearcats won 40-7 in the last matchup with Eastern Kentucky in 2008. Cincinnati also won the only other clash by 31-0 in 2006. Both those meetings were also season openers.
Last year, Eastern Kentucky went to the state of Ohio and returned with a 59-57, seven-overtime victory against Football Bowl Subdivision member Bowling Green.
–Field Level Media