Gunner Kiel

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Gunner Kiel loses Cincinnati’s starting QB battle to Hayden Moore

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The collegiate career of Gunner Kiel has hit yet another speed bump entering his last season.

Cincinnati announced that Hayden Moore will be the Bearcats’ starting quarterback moving forward. Moore and Kiel, a senior, had been engaged in a quarterback battle that began in the spring and continued on into the first portion of summer camp.

Moore’s consistency throughout the competition led to Tommy Tuberville pulling the trigger in his favor in a competition that also included Ros Trail..

“Hayden was our most consistent quarterback from spring football all the way through training camp,” the head coach said in a statement. “He gives us the best chance to win right now. Gunner Kiel and Ross Trail will continue to battle for the backup QB spot, but it’s important all three be ready to play when we kick this thing off in 10 days. It’s important to us to name a starter now so Hayden has some time working exclusively with the first-team offense to continue to develop timing and a comfort level with our offensive skill players.”

Moore started three games last season as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 1,683 yards and eight touchdowns. In relief of an injured Kiel, Moore passed for a school-record 557 yards in a loss to Memphis, then started the next two games. He also started the bowl game as Kiel didn’t play because of what were described as “personal problems.”

Kiel started all 13 games for the Bearcats in 2014, then started 10 in 2015 as he dealt with a head injury.

Kiel officially transferred to the Bearcats April 19, 2013, exactly one month after it was confirmed he was no longer a member of the Irish football program.  He was originally an Indiana commit and then a LSU commit before he flipped his commitment to Notre Dame shortly before National Signing Day, prompting the Tigers’ head coach to take the low road when it came to the five-star prospect and introducing “chesticular fortitude” to the vernacular.

Blowout of Cincinnati leaves San Diego St. with nation’s second-longest winning streak

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Quick quiz: There are currently two FBS teams with double-digit winning streaks, with top-ranked Clemson, at 16 in a row, one of them; who’s the other?  If you answered San Diego State, collect your fake monopoly money and move on.

After jumping out to a larger-than-it-looked 21-0 lead at the half, SDSU eventually doubled that lead over the final 30 minutes before settling for a 42-7 pasting of Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl.  The win is the Aztecs’ 10th in a row, one more than College Football Playoff semifinalist Alabama’s nine.

It’s also SDSU’s 11th win on the season, tying the school record set back in 1969 under the legendary Don Coryell.  This year’s squad, the Mountain West Conference champions, had already become the fifth team in school history to reach double digits in wins and the first to do so since 1977.

From the opening kickoff — literally — there was little doubt that Rocky Long‘s crew would add to its historic season, with Rashaad Penny racing 100 yards in the first 15 seconds to give the Aztecs a lead they would never relinquish.  SDSU’s defense, which came into the game 10th nationally in points allowed (17 points per game), bookended the special teams touchdown on Alex Barrett‘s interception return for a touchdown to extend the lead to 42-0 with 9:04 remaining.

In between, running back Donnel Pumphrey, who may or may not have played his final game in an Aztec uniform, ran and passed for a touchdown, the latter being the first of his career.  Pumphrey’s backfield mate, former walk-on fullback Dakota Gordon, rushed for and caught a touchdown, the latter coming off the arm of Pumphrey.

SDSU’s defense, in addition to pitching a shutout for the first 56½ minutes, forced three turnovers, with all three being interceptions thrown by Hayden Moore.  In just his third career start, the freshman Moore, pressed onto the field because of personal issues involving starter Gunner Kiel, passed for 202 yards.  The Bearcats’ lone touchdown came on Mike Boone‘s one-yard touchdown run.

UC finishes the year 7-6, its first time winning nine or fewer games since 2010.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 24 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 24 bowl menu, which features a pair of games on islands and teams from four different conferences: AAC, Conference USA, MAC and Mountain West.

WHO: Middle Tennessee State (7-5) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)
WHAT: The 2nd Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
WHERE: Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: A 3-5 start to the 2015 season put Middle Tennessee State’s bowl eligibility in jeopardy, but Rick Stockstill‘s crew righted the ship and finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak.  Western Michigan was in control of its MAC West fate at 5-0 before back-to-back losses to Bowling Green and eventual division champion Northern Illinois essentially ended their conference title game hopes, although they did knock off Toledo in the finale to rip the West from the Rockets and hand it to the Huskies.  History is not on WMU’s side, however, as the Broncos have played in six bowl games previously… and lost all six.  What WMU does have on its side is a pair of receivers, Daniel Braverman (103-1,266-12) and Corey Davis (82-1,253-11), who combined for 185 receptions for 2,519 yards and 23 touchdowns. MTSU can move the ball through the air as well as Brent Stockstill has passed for 3,678 yards.  Offense should rule the day overall as both are prolific on that side of the ball — WMU’s 22nd nationally in total offense, MTSU 30th — while the Blue Raiders are in the middle of the pack defensively (51st in scoring defense).  The Broncos, meanwhile, are 78th in scoring.  With a win, WMU would win eight or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history; an MTSU win, meanwhile, would give that program exactly eight wins in three of the last four seasons.
THE LINE: Middle Tennessee State, +4½
THE PREDICTION: Western Michigan 37, Middle Tennessee State 34

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WHO: San Diego State (10-3) vs. Cincinnati (7-5)
WHAT: The 14th Hawaii Bowl
WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Very quietly, Mountain West champion San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the country, with their nine-game winning streak tied with Alabama for the second-longest streak nationally behind Clemson’s 16 in a row.  In fact, one more win for the Aztecs would tie the single-season school record of 11 set back in 1969 under Don Coryell.  The 10 wins are already SDSU’s first double-digit win season since 1977 and just the fifth since becoming an FBS program.  Cincinnati, on the other hand, won back-to-back games just once this season, although they didn’t lose back-to-back games at all in 2015.  The Bearcats are also dealing with some internal strife as starting quarterback Gunner Kiel will not play because of what are being described as “personal reasons.”  The Bearcats, though, are prolific offensively, ranking 24th in the country with 36.1 points per game.  The problem is that San Diego State is among the stingiest in giving up points, with their 17 points per game positioning the Aztecs 10th nationally in that category.  SDSU has given up 20 or more points four times this season, and just once, in a 27-24 win over Air Force, during their winning streak.  That said, the key to the game could be Cincinnati’s run defense: UC is 106th in allowing teams to average 5.0 yards per carry, while SDSU’s Donnel Pumphrey‘s 1,554 yards are 10th nationally as he averages 5.5 ypc.
THE LINE: Cincinnati, +1½
THE PREDICTION: San Diego State 42, Cincinnati 28

Hurricanes weather early storm, but still trail Bearcats at the half

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Miami’s first game on the road in 2015 was preceded by something that’s become very familiar throughout the first part of the season…

… and then began like the #FireAlGolden banner flyers would have additional ammunition in their quest.  While that still may be the case, Golden’s troops aren’t seemingly in the mood to hand it to the detractors on a silver platter — unless the last two minutes of the half portends impending defensive doom.

Down double-digits early on, Miami bounced back to take a 20-17 lead early in the second quarter.  Late in the half, however, a Hayden Moore one-yard touchdown sneak put the Bearcats up 24-20. A field goal with no time left on the clock gave UC a 27-20 halftime lead.

After the Hurricanes’ opening drive was capped by a field goal and a 3-0 lead, the Bearcats looked like they were going to put the visitors away early.  Four plays after the ensuing drive commenced, Hosey Williams ended it with a 29-yard touchdown run that featured ridiculous defense in general and horrific tackling specifically as the back should’ve been stopped for a loss. A little less than a minute later, Moore, replacing the concussed Gunner Kiel at quarterback, hit Mekale McKay from 11 yards out for a 14-3 lead with 9:02 left in the first.

10 straight points to end the quarter, however, pulled the Canes back to within one at 14-13. An Andrew Gantz field goal from 51 yards that seemingly would’ve been good from 71 extended the lead to 17-13, but Joseph Yearby‘s eight-yard touchdown run gave the ‘Canes their first lead since early in the first quarter at 20-17.

Cincinnati has rolled up 300 yards of offense to Miami’s 240. After throwing for a school-record 557 yards in his last Thursday night effort, Moore has been “held” to “just” 207. Yearby leads all rushers with 67 yards on just eight carries.

Cincinnati will get the ball first to start the second half.

Cincinnati offers update on QB Gunner Kiel; status for Miami undetermined

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A very scary initial incident Thursday night appears to headed toward a positive ending.

In the first half of Memphis’ wild 53-46 win, Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel was on the receiving end of a nasty shot from the Tigers’ Chauncy Lanier that seemed to knock him momentarily unconscious and left him motionless for a period of time. First treated in the UC locker room after being carted off the field, Kiel was later transported to a local hospital, where he was said to be awake and had movement in all of his extremities.

Friday afternoon, the university offered the following update on Kiel’s status:

University of Cincinnati junior quarterback Gunner Kiel traveled back to Cincinnati last night with the team following the game at Memphis. His X-rays were negative. Kiel remains under evaluation by the UC medical staff and his status for the Miami (Fla.) game on Thursday, Oct. 1 is undetermined at this time.

Kiel sustained a concussion the previous weekend, but was cleared prior to last night’s game.

Should Kiel be sidelined, it would appear the Bearcats have a very capable replacement.

After taking over for Kiel, freshman Hayden Moore passed for 557 yards and four touchdowns on 53 attempts. More broke the school record for passing yards in a single, besting the standard of 554 set by Greg Cook in 1968.