With the Tigers set to square off against the seventh-ranked Bearcats on Saturday, we decided to break down the history of this series prior to the next chapter of their rivalry, which will be crucial for positioning down the stretch in the American Athletic Conference.
Five: Memphis has beaten Cincinnati five straight times dating back to 2014, including twice in back-to-back weeks at the end of last season. Trust me, Luke Fickell’s team hasn’t forgotten about those two losses that knocked them out of contention for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game. They would love to return the favor here at home.
Thirty-Seven: This is the thirty-seventh meeting ever between Memphis and Cincinnati, with the first taking place all the way back in 1966. Memphis leads the all-time series between the two programs, 23-13. Outside of a dominant stretch from 1967-1974 where the Tigers won eight straight, however, this rivalry has been relatively even.
Sixteen: Over the last ten meetings, the average margin of defeat is sixteen. Based on the type of games Memphis is comfortable playing and the 42-13 shellacking Cincinnati put on SMU a week ago, it feels safe to expect a lot of points in this game.
Seven: Currently ranked seventh in the AP Top 25, Cincinnati is in the catbird seat for a potential berth in a New Year’s Bowl. Although it is still a longshot that a non-power five team ever receives a college football playoff bid, a hypothetically undefeated Bearcats team would have to be in the mix at the end of what has been one of the wackiest seasons ever. A CFP appearance would, admittedly, be massive for the AAC.
Ninety-One: Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder ran all over the SMU defense in their 42-13 win a week ago, gashing the formerly unbeaten Mustangs for 179 rushing yards and three touchdowns, including a 91-yard scamper. While Ridder missed the first game against Memphis last year due to injury, he played banged up in the AAC title game, turning in 113 yards on the ground while passing for 233 in the loss. Now healthy, he has the Bearcats sitting in first at 4-0 and is coming off one of the most impressive games of his career. The Tigers, for the most part, have always struggled to contain dual-threat quarterbacks. Slowing Ridder down will be pivotal for Mike MacIntyre’s defense.
While the series between Memphis and Cincinnati has always been closely contested, recently the games have begun to feel more significant each time. For Ryan Silverfield, he will get his first crack at a top-10 opponent in a true road setting in what will be only his fifth game as head man. Luke Fickell will be looking to get the monkey off his back and finally topple Memphis. With each side looking to solidify its status as the class of the AAC, something will have to give on Halloween morning.