Cincinnati opens inaugural Big 12 slate against No. 16 Oklahoma

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CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati’s campus is peppered with the Big 12 Conference logo.

From its presence on overhead signs lining walkways to being wrapped prominently on the outside of buses, it’s practically inescapable.

The Bearcats, for the first time in school history, are in a Power Five conference following the latest realignment churn, and they’re proudly flaunting it.

Now, it’s time to play the games.

First-year Cincinnati coach Scott Satterfield and his players used the word “excited” seven times when referring to their emotions heading into Saturday’s home game against No. 16 Oklahoma.

The game will mark the first in the Big 12 for the Bearcats, who moved from the Group of Five’s American Athletic Conference on July 1.

“It’s awesome,” said Satterfield, who took over the Cincinnati program in December. “It’s really neat to be playing at this level and playing in this new league. Albeit they’re putting us with one of the better teams in this league the first game in the Big 12 with Oklahoma. Man, they’re as hot as any team out there right now.”

Cincinnati (2-1) will be tested by the team that has largely been the standard in the Big 12 for the better part of three decades.

The Sooners (3-0) have won 14 Big 12 championships in the league’s first 27 years. No other Big 12 program has won more than three.

Oklahoma has won eight of its last 10 Big 12 openers. But the Sooners, under then-first-year coach Brent Venables, lost their conference opener last season, falling to Kansas State at home.

Venables knows this year’s Big 12 opener will present its own challenges, particularly when facing a Cincinnati defensive line that boasts preseason AP first-team All-American defensive tackle Dontay Corleone.

“Their (defensive) front is really, really good,” he said. “They’re experienced, they’re battle-tested, and they’ve played at a really high level for quite some time. They’ve been a very consistent group of guys. That’s going to be a great challenge. ... It’s going to be an exciting challenge.”


Oklahoma and Cincinnati have been among the winningest programs in college football since 2018.

The Sooners and Bearcats entered the season as two of only seven teams who have won at least 50 games over that span.

While Cincinnati looks to bounce back from its first loss in 17 years to in-state rival Miami (Ohio) and show it belongs among the Power Five, Oklahoma is looking to finish its stint in the Big 12 on a high note. This season marks the last for the Sooners in the conference before they move to the Southeastern Conference next July 1.


Cincinnati will face a familiar opponent in Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel.

The UCF transfer threw for 540 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions in two games against the Bearcats in 2019 and 2020. Gabriel threw three interceptions in his last visit to Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium in 2019, including a pick-six to then-Cincinnati freshman CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.

Gabriel leads the FBS in completion percentage (.825) and ranks second in passing efficiency (220.4) this season. He set a single-game school record for completion percentage (.903) by going 28 of 31 for 421 yards and five TDs last week at Tulsa. Gabriel was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.


AP college football: and