On Saturday, the Cincinnati Bearcats will travel to Houston to face the Cougars for the 5th time since 2013, as members of the American Athletic Conference. Bearcats won the first two meetings – in Houston in 2013 and at home in 2014. And Houston won the next two – in Houston 2015 and on the road in 2016.
Overall, Cincinnati is 10-15 vs Houston with action coming between these schools during the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, 90’s and now.
From 1957-1959, both Cincinnati and Houston were members of the Missouri Valley Conference. Cincinnati was part of MVC from 1957-1969 and Houston from 1951-1959.
Cougars won the first three meetings – 7-0 in 1957, 34-13 in 1958, 13-12 in 1959.
Despite the fact that Houston left the MVC, these schools continued to play. Houston won the next three (1960-1962) before Cincinnati finally got their first victory in 1964. That was during Charles Studley’s fourth season as Head Coach and Cincinnati finished first in the MVC, with an 8-2 record.
Houston would win the next five after that (1965, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1974). Bearcats won in 1975 and that was the end of this “rivalry” for the time being.
Their next meeting would not be until 1993, a one-off meeting that the Bearcats won 41-17.
Before joining the Big East, and ultimately, the American, Cincinnati was part of Conference-USA, a conference they shared with Houston. These two teams met every year between 1997-2002 as C-USA rivals.
Cincinnati went 5-2 vs Houston in C-USA play. They won the first meeting in 1996 and the last one in 2002. Rick Minter coached the Bearcats during this run.
The two losses came in 1997 and 1999. Despite the loss in 1997, Cincinnati made it to their first bowl game in 47 years, beating Utah State in the Humanitarian Bowl.
American Athletic Conference
These teams have met four teams in the AAC, with each team winning twice.
2013 Result: Cincinnati won 24-17 (in Houston)
2013 was the Cougars first in the AAC. For the Bearcats, it was a year that ended with a 9-4 record in Tommy Tuberville’s first season.
The first and fourth quarters were scoreless, as all the action took place in the second and third quarters. Cincinnati led 17-7 at halftime. Halfway through the third quarter, they made it 24-7, essentially putting the game away at that point.
Bearcats doubled up Houston in total yardage, putting up 573 yards of total offense, compared to 278 for Houston. QB Brendon Kay led a ridiculous air attack, throwing the ball 50 times (29 completions) for 406 yards. He threw 2 touchdowns, ran for 1, and threw 2 interceptions. WR Chris Moore caught both of those touchdowns, catching 4 passes total for 72 yards. Two WRs went over 100 yards receiving – Anthony McClung (137) and Shaq Washington (132). The running game was led by Hosey WIlliams, who ran 13 times for 84 yards.
2014 Result: Cincinnati won 38-31 (in Cincy)
This was the regular season finale in 2014. This was Cincinnati’s 7th straight win, improving their record to 9-3 and clinching a share of the AAC title. For Houston, they finished 7-5 and fired Head Coach Tony Levine.
RB Mike Boone led the way offensively for the Bearcats, running for three touchdowns. In total, he ran 17 times for 85 yards and backup Rodriguez Moore ran 18 times for 75 yards.
Both Gunner Kiel and Munchie Legaux saw action at QB. Kiel threw 2 touchdowns and neither threw an interception. Combined, they completed 25 of 38 passes for 348 yards. The two touchdown passes went to WRs Shaq Washington (who led the team, both with 5 catches and with 63 yards receiving) and Alex Chisum. 10 different receivers caught a pass and seven players caught more than one pass.
Boone scored the first touchdown of the game and both of Kiel’s TD passes came in the second quarter. It was 21-10 at halftime, before Boone ran for two TDs in the third. Cincinnati led 35-17 going into the fourth quarter, before giving up two late touchdowns to make the final score much closer than it actually was.
2015 Result: Houston won 33-30 (in Houston)
In 2015, Houston represented the AAC as the Group of Five champion in the Peach Bowl, where they beat Florida State. They came into this game vs Cincinnati 8-0 ranked #25, in the first year of Head Coach Tom Herman.
In the first half, Cincinnati matched Houston after each score. Cougars struck first, in the first quarter, followed by a Bearcats answer in the beginning of the second quarter. Each team would score again in the second, to make it 14-14 at halftime.
In the third quarter though, things went sideways for Cincinnati. There was a pick six and a safety, and before you knew it, that halftime tie became 30-14 through 10 minutes of the third quarter.
QB Gunner Kiel did everything in his power to keep Cincinnati alive in this game. He threw the ball 51 times and threw for 523 yards. He threw 4 touchdowns to WRs Chris Moore (2), Nate Cole, and Shaq Washington. He also threw 2 interceptions.
2016 Result: Houston won 40-16 (in Cincinnati)
This was a huge moment for both schools. Cougars came into Nippert Stadium ranked 6th, coming off the hype of their Peach Bowl win and the rise of coach Tom Herman. For Cincinnati, this year ultimately ended up being a 4 win disaster, that resulted in the firing of Tommy Tuberville.
This game was highly competitive and exciting for three quarters. It was just 10-10 at halftime and a third quarter safety gave Houston the lead 12-10 after three quarters.
On the first play of the first quarter, QB Hayden Moore found WR Nate Cole for a 4 yard touchdown, to give Cincinnati a 16-12 lead (they missed the 2 point conversion). Nippert Stadium was ROCKING and momentum was on Cincinnati’s side to pull off the major upset.
From there though, the wheels came OFF. Houston scored 4 touchdowns within an 8 minute span. Houston QB Greg Ward ran for 2 touchdowns, ending a 9 play drive and an 11 play drive, that put Houston up 26-16.
The game wasn’t over and was certainly within reach until Hayden Moore imploded. Moore threw two pick sixes on back-to-back passes, giving Houston two defensive touchdowns within 7 seconds of game time. A 28 point fourth quarter, capped off the 40-16 victory.