Berry’s college football predictions: OU beats Cincinnati in the trenches

Berry’s college football predictions: OU beats Cincinnati in the trenches

When OU comes to Nippert Stadium, Bearcats linemen need to play much better to hang with the Sooners.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Sep 20, 2023, 11:43am CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Sep 20, 2023, 11:43am CDT

I sat in Scott Satterfield’s office 5½ months ago, overlooking historic Nippert Stadium, listening to the new Cincinnati coach’s assessment of his maiden Bearcat team.

“Think we’ll be solid in the trenches,” Satterfield said. “Gotta have some big guys to be competitive.”

Then last Saturday night, Cincinnati lost to ancient rival Miami-Ohio 31-24 in overtime. Eight UC possessions penetrated the Miami 20-yard line. The Bearcats produced two touchdowns (and three field goals) out of those eight opportunities.

Now OU comes to Nippert Stadium, and the Bearcats need to play much better in the trenches if they are to hang with the Sooners.

But Brent Venables says he doesn’t look at the interior as an automatic OU advantage.

I know that their front is really, really good, and they’re experienced, they’re battle tested and they’ve played at a really high level for quite some time,” Venables said. “They’ve been a very consistent group of guys. So that’s going to be a great challenge.”

Cincinnati returns three of its five offensive line starters and fortified the unit with transfers from Louisville and Kentucky. UC’s three-man defensive front returns, led by Dontay Corleone.

“This is going to be a line of scrimmage football game,” Venables said. “Both sides of the ball. They’re physical, they’re relentless, aggressive, confident, all those things. So it’s going to be an exciting challenge.”

Cincinnati rushed for 216 yards in a 27-21 win at Pittsburgh, then rushed for 273 yards vs. Miami-Ohio. If the Bearcats can run like that, they will put the Sooners in a bind. But UC can’t afford red-zone failures.

Let’s get to the predictions:

Oklahoma at Cincinnati: Sooners 31-21. Here’s predicting a big game out of OU tailback Javontae Barnes.

Oklahoma State at Iowa State: Cowboys 16-13. You think OSU has football trouble? Iowa State has a losing record, lost starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers and tailback Jirehl Brock to a betting scandal, and is 2-10 in its last 12 games, with eight losses by seven points or less.

Brigham Young at Kansas: Cougars 31-30. BYU had just 281 total yards at Arkansas but came away with a 38-31 upset last week. The Jayhawks were impressive in routing Illinois, but KU was tied with Nevada midway through the fourth quarter last week before winning 31-24. 

Central Florida at Kansas State: Wildcats 28-22. K-State quarterback Will Howard might miss the game with an injury, but UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee absolutely will miss the game with an injury.

Texas at Baylor: Longhorns 34-17. Baylor QB Blake Shapen remains out, which means coach Dave Aranda must draw up some sharp defense to keep the ‘Horns close.

Texas Tech at West Virginia: Red Raiders 27-23. Beating Pittsburgh, as WVU did last week, helps with Mountaineer coach Neal Brown’s job security. So would beating Tech (or Texas Christian next week) to secure a winning September record against a difficult schedule.

Southern Methodist at Texas Christian: Horned Frogs 31-21. TCU is letting the Iron Skillet rivalry go dormant, after the 2025 season. Boo, Horned Frogs.

Sam Houston at Houston: Cougars 28-19. UH keeps some non-conference scheduling local, but that didn’t work out so well vs. Rice.

Ole Miss at Alabama: Rebels 27-17. Mississippi is an underdog only because of the name on the jersey.

Auburn at Texas A&M: Aggies 26-14. The Tigers went to Cal-Berkeley and barely won (14-10). College Station will offer a much tougher foe and a much tougher environment.

Arkansas at Louisiana State: Tigers 31-14. Remember when this game was a Thanksgiving weekend staple?

Mississippi State at South Carolina: Gamecocks 23-14. Carolina played extremely tough at Georgia. These Bulldogs will finish near the bottom of the SEC.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt: Wildcats 27-7. Vandy was a surprise winner last season in this series that dates to 1896.

Texas-San Antonio at Tennessee: Volunteers 31-21. UTSA is better-tuned, having played three real games. Tight losses to Houston and Army sandwiching a victory over Texas State.

Memphis vs. Missouri in St. Louis: Mizzou 28-24. Will the Memphians travel by riverboat to the game? Man, that would be cool.

Charlotte at Florida: Gators 34-14. Florida revived its season with a dominating win over Tennessee.

Alabama-Birmingham at Georgia: Bulldogs 49-6. UAB coach Trent Dilfer is off to a rough start. Back-to-back defeats to the Sun Belt’s Georgia Southern (49-35) and Louisiana 41-21, with road trips to Georgia and Tulane next up.

Ohio State at Notre Dame: Buckeyes 24-23. Who would have ever thought that the Fighting Irish could have the quarterback edge against the Buckeyes? Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman has given Notre Dame its best quarterback in a generation and maybe two. But Ohio State overall has more talent.

Iowa at Penn State: Nittany Lions 21-6. First team to 10 wins.

Wisconsin at Purdue: Badgers 24-20. Purdue literally has no automatic win until Nov. 18, at Northwestern. 

Maryland at Michigan State: Terrapins 27-24. The Spartans’ Mel Tucker mess is beyond comprehension. How could Michigan State ever have given such a ridiculous contract to a man so void of common sense or decent scruples?

Rutgers at Michigan: Wolverines 31-7. Hard to remember, but the Scarlet Knights beat Michigan in 2014, Rutgers’ first season in the Big Ten. 

Minnesota at Northwestern: Gophers 39-12. Can the Wildcats avoid a winless Big Ten season? This is one of their chances.

Akron at Indiana: Hoosiers 25-10. Strange game for IU. The Hoosiers generally use Ball State when it comes to Mid-American Conference scheduling.

Louisiana Tech at Nebraska: Cornhuskers 31-8. Matt Rhule tries to get to 2-2 in his first NU season.

Florida Atlantic at Illinois: Illini 31-13. Sad end to Casey Thompson’s career — the Newcastle High School graduate suffered a major knee injury last week quarterbacking FAU vs. Clemson.

Colorado at Oregon: Ducks 42-30. The Buffaloes need all hands on deck against the superior Ducks, but two-way star Travis Hunter will miss the game with a lacerated kidney, courtesy of that Colorado State cheap shot.

UCLA at Utah: Utes 26-20. The start of a rough stretch for Utah — UCLA, Oregon State, Southern Cal and Oregon in a five-game span.

Oregon State at Washington State: Beavers 30-28. The Pac-2 Championship Game. Could the winner somehow get to the Pac-12 Championship Game?

Arizona at Stanford: Wildcats 28-16. A routine Big 12/Atlantic Coast matchup.

Southern Cal at Arizona State: Trojans 55-10. The Sun Devils’ fourth straight home game and ASU’s least likely to win.

California at Washington: Huskies 44-10. Cal is way behind at quarterback in the talent-rich Pac-12. Washington, with Michael Penix, is not.

Florida State at Clemson: Seminoles 25-17. The Seminoles haven’t won the ACC title since 2014. But Florida State could put Clemson in serious jeopardy of missing the ACC title game, and FSU has a big edge at quarterback, with Jordan Travis over Cade Klubnik.

North Carolina State at Virginia: Wolfpack 48-7. N.C. State quarterback Brennan Armstrong transferred from Virginia; Mike Gundy recruited Armstrong hot and heavy out of the portal.

Georgia Tech at Wake Forest: Yellow Jackets 24-22. Georgia Tech is 15-34 since firing coach Paul Johnson.

North Carolina at Pittsburgh: Tar Heels 35-15. Carolina is 3-0 and has played three legitimate teams — South Carolina, Appalachian State and Minnesota. Few teams have done more.

Virginia Tech at Marshall: Thundering Herd 27-18. Strange sport. In-state West Virginia won’t play Marshall, but Virginia Tech will.

Boston College at Louisville: Cardinals 33-14. Playing on back-to-back Saturdays in BC’s Alumni Stadium, the Eagles barely survived Holy Cross 31-28, then scared Florida State before falling 31-29.

Army at Syracuse: Orange 24-17. Syracuse likes to claim to be New York’s team, but if any school holds that distinction, it’s West Point.

Duke at Connecticut: Blue Devils 28-9. Let’s play hoops!

Miami at Temple: Hurricanes 41-10. These universities once were Big East brothers.

Tulsa at Northern Illinois: Golden Hurricane 27-25. I can’t figure out the Huskies. They upset Boston College on Chestnut Hill, then lost at home to Southern Illinois. 

Rice at South Florida: Bulls 19-17. Has Alabama stock fallen? You tell me. USF hosted Bama last week and played the Crimson Tide tight, trailing just 10-3 in the final minute before losing 17-3. And still, Rice is a 2½-point favorite over South Florida. 

Appalachian State at Wyoming: Mountaineers 30-20. What a great mid-major matchup. Appalachian State (Boone, North Carolina) is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Saturday plays in the Rockies. Literally, what a country.

Boise State at San Diego State: Broncos 24-19. A couple of Mountain West contenders who are off to disappointing starts. Both already have lost twice — the Aztecs to Oregon State and UCLA; the Broncos to Washington and Central Florida.

Air Force at San Jose State: Falcons 26-24. The Academy is a sneaky pick in the Mountain West. The Airmen have looked good in their 3-0 start.

James Madison at Utah State: Dukes 38-27. Hey, another cross-country, mountainous matchup. James Madison (Harrisonburg, Virginia) also is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed for the Rockies.

Kent State at Fresno State: Bulldogs 42-12. Another cross-country mid-major trip, but not a good matchup. Kent State was walloped by a combined 84-12 by Central Florida and Arkansas. Meanwhile, Fresno State has won at Purdue and Arizona State.

Nevada at Texas State: Bobcats 30-20. Just what the suddenly-rugged Sun Belt needed — another competitive program, which is what Texas State has become.

Nevada-Las Vegas at Texas-El Paso: Rebels 28-18. Lots in common here. Desert schools. Hyphenated schools. Never done much in football. NCAA basketball titles with iconic coaches.

Colorado State at Middle Tennessee: Blue Raiders 27-16. Former Bob Stoops assistant Jay Norvell has spent a lot of time in the spotlight the last week, going into and coming out of CSU’s Colorado showdown. 

New Mexico at Massachusetts: Minutemen 20-10. Not many New England teams can say they’ve pulled off the Land of Enchantment sweep, but UMass beat New Mexico State 41-30 four weeks ago.

New Mexico State at Hawaii: Aggies 18-15. State beat New Mexico last week and sits 2-2, with a chance at 3-2. 

Western Kentucky at Troy: Trojans 24-14. That South Florida team that held down Alabama? The Hilltoppers beat USF 41-21. And I’m still picking Troy. 

Central Michigan at South Alabama: Jaguars 34-17. If South Alabama runs roughshod over the rest of the season, including the Sun Belt Conference, then OSU’s 33-7 loss to the Jaguars is a tad more amenable. But if the Chippewas play South Alabama close…

Southern Mississippi at Arkansas State: Golden Eagles 26-10. Three Oklahoma State offensive coordinators (Jeff Bower 1991, Larry Fedora 2008, Todd Monken 2012) have left OSU for Southern. Wonder if the Golden Eagles would come calling on Kasey Dunn, should USM move on from Will Hall? Not that Hall is in serious trouble.

Georgia State at Coastal Carolina: Chanticleers 31-28. Coastal played UCLA much better (a 27-13 road loss) than did San Diego State (a 35-10 home loser).

Georgia Southern at Ball State: Eagles 26-14. Did the Sun Belt and Mid-American make some kind of scheduling pact?

Buffalo at Louisiana: Ragin’ Cajuns 32-20. See what I mean about the MAC and the Sun Belt?

Last week: 49-14. Season: 167-34

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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