No. 25 Cincinnati tries to stay in AAC East hunt vs USF
South Florida (7-3, 3-2 American) at Cincinnati (8-1, 4-1), 7 p.m. EST (ESPNU).
Line: Cincinnati by 7.
Series record: Cincinnati leads 8-7.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Bearcats moved back into the Top 25 with a 42-0 win over Navy. They remain in the chase for the American Athletic title, trailing No. 11 Central Florida (8-0, 5-0) by a game, and they play at UCF in a week. South Florida is trying to recover from back-to-back drubbings, the Bulls‘ first consecutive losses in conference games since 2014. They fell at Houston 57-36 — the most points allowed in school history — and at home to Tulane 41-15.
The Bearcats’ balanced offense faces a defense that’s been flattened two games in a row. Cincinnati scored touchdowns on all of it four first-half possessions against Navy and opened the second half with another TD pass by Desmond Ridder, who missed part of one series after twisting his right leg beneath him as he was tackled.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
USF: QB Blake Barnett began his college career at Alabama, starting the season opener in 2016. He’s thrown for 2,400 yards and is on pace to become the first 3,000-yard passer in USF history.
Cincinnati: RB Michael Warren II has 14 rushing touchdowns, the most by a Bearcat since 2002. The school record is 17 by David Small in 1993. The Bulls allowed a season-high 365 yards rushing by Tulane.
FACTS & FIGURES
USF is seeking its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2016, when the Bulls beat Navy at home. Last road win over a ranked team was 2011 at Notre Dame. … USF is beginning regular season-ending stretch against the three teams the Bulls trail in the AAC East standings — Cincinnati, Temple and UCF. … RB Jordan Cronkrite, a transfer from Florida, needs 54 yards rushing for 1,000 this season. He’s 10th in nation in rushing at 118.3 yards per game. … Bearcats have their best record since 2009, when they went 12-0. … Cincinnati leads the league in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and third-down defense. … Warren needs 69 yards rushing to become first Bearcat with 1,000 in a season since 2012.