FACTS & STATS: Site: Paul Brown Stadium (65,535) — Cincinnati, Ohio.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: USF 2-3, Cincinnati 2-1. Away Record: USF 0-1,
Cincinnati 1-2. Neutral Record: USF 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Conference Record:
USF 2-1, Cincinnati 1-1. Series Record: Cincinnati leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats will attempt to insert themselves back
into the American Athletic Conference title chase when they take on the South
Florida Bulls at Paul Brown Stadium on Friday night.
Although the Bulls are certainly not considered one of the contenders in the
AAC this season, they have won two of their first three games in league play,
and are currently tied for third in the conference standings. It should be
noted, however, that the two victories came against Connecticut and Tulsa,
which are a combined 2-11 overall.
Cincinnati picked up its first league win last weekend, blasting past the
hapless SMU Mustangs, 41-3. The Bearcats not only evened their conference
record (1-1) with the win, they also pulled themselves back to .500 overall
(3-3), while ending a three-game losing streak.
USF, which won all of two games last season, picked up one of those victories
against Cincinnati, taking a 26-20 decision in early October. The Bearcats
still maintain a 7-4 advantage in the all-time series.
It was a slow start for USF’s offense last weekend against Tulsa, but the
Bulls really picked up the pace in the second half. After falling behind,
27-7, at halftime on the backs of a 96-yard effort, they posted 316 yards of
total offense in the final 30 minutes to complete the biggest comeback in
To put that second half in perspective, on the season the Bulls are averaging
only 311.3 yards per game.
Andre Davis was the offensive star of the Tulsa game, hauling in six passes
for 154 yards and three touchdowns. All of those scores came in the second
half. Davis has played in only three games this season, but he leads the team
in receiving yards (322) and touchdowns (four). His 24.8 yards per reception
average would lead the AAC if he had played enough games to qualify. Rodney
Adams (18 receptions, 248 yards, TD) leads the team in receptions, but is
nowhere near the playmaker Davis is.
Mike White is responsible for getting the ball to Davis and Adams, as well as
the rest of the receiving corps. White easily played his best game of the
season against Tulsa, completing 17-of-26 passes for 272 yards and three
scores, although he was picked off once. Still, for a quarterback completing
only 47.6 percent of his pass attempts and averaging 155.7 yards per game, the
effort was a vast improvement.
Davis may have impressed against Tulsa, but running back Marlon Mack has been
the most steady producer for the offense this season. Mack has tallied 727
yards and eight touchdowns on 133 carries in seven games. He leads the AAC in
rushing by more than 100 yards, and is the only player averaging better than
84 yards per game (103.9).
While Davis and Mack give the Bulls some hope on offense, there is still work
to be done on defense. The Bulls rank eighth in the AAC in both scoring
defense (29 ppg) and total defense (417 ypg). Their effort against Tulsa was
par for the course, as they let up 30 points and 412 yards.
In its rout of SMU, Cincinnati eclipsed the 500-yard mark for the first time
since the season opener against Toledo, finishing with 508 yards of total
offense. The Bearcats are normally a potent offensive bunch and that has not
changed this season, with the team ranked behind only East Carolina among AAC
teams with averages of 34.3 points and 443 yards per contest.
Gunner Kiel has enjoyed a productive first six games under center, throwing
for 1,853 yards and 19 touchdowns on 59.4 percent passing. Against Tulsa, he
bounced back from sub par performances against Memphis and Miami-Florida,
although he did not have to do all that much, completing 13-of-20 passes for
241 yards and a touchdown.
There were 10 different players who were credited with a reception in the win.
Shaq Washington (27 recs., 269 yards, two TDs) and Max Morrison (21 recs., 328
yards, two TDs) each had three catches, while Mekale McKay (19 recs., 377
yards, five TDs) had a game-high 56 receiving yards. Chris Moore was limited
to a single catch, but still leads the team in receiving yards (421).
Although Hosey Williams missed his second straight game, the Bearcats showed
that they have plenty of depth at running back. Rod Moore became the team’s
leading rusher, adding 47 yards and a score to his season total against the
Mustangs. Meanwhile, Jarred Evans turned in 67 yards and a score as one of
three players to rush for at least 50 yards on the day.
While it should be taken with a grain of salt, the Cincinnati defense looked
very strong against SMU, allowing only 276 yards of total offense. SMU may be
next-to-last in the country in total offense, but the effort provides at least
a glimmer of hope for a Cincinnati unit allowing an average of 524 yards and
34.5 points per game.
It is difficult to tell if USF and UC have turned a corner, or if their play
last week was just due to the inferior competition on the other side. While
the Bearcats may not be able to shut Mack and Davis down completely, they have
enough offensive punch of their own to collect a victory in a friendly
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 31, South Florida 21