HOUSTON – Cincinnati got off to a strong start in American Athletic Conference play when it snapped perennial favorite Central Florida's 19-game conference winning-streak. The Bearcats have ripped off three straight victories and will now head to Houston, a team still looking for its first win in AAC play.
TV: 3:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2. LINE: Cincinnati -7.5.
While the Bearcats were unable to keep up with UCF on offense, they forced four turnovers that propeled them to the upset. Cincinnati's defense that sends out 23 players a game ranks 23rd in the nation in total defense. That poses a tall task for a Cougars team that is still picking up the pieces after senior quarterback D'Eriq King announced he was sitting out the remainder of the season and transferring. Sophomore signal-caller Clayton Tune will start his second game of the season and fourth of his career.
ABOUT CINCINNATI (4-1, 1-0 AAC)
Linebacker Jarrell White has been one of the x-factors on the Bearcat defense, collecting 24 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. For Cincinnati to outpace the Cougars on offense, it starts with quarterback Desmond Ridder, who is just short of 1,000 passing yard on the season while tossing 10 touchdowns. Tight end Josiah Deguara, who has caught a pass in 18 straight games, leads the team with 247 receiving yards and has hauled in three touchdowns.
ABOUT HOUSTON (2-3, 0-1)
In Tune's first start of the year against North Texas, he connected on 16 of 20 passing attempts for 124 yards and a touchdown, in addition to 100 yards on the ground. As for Tune's weapons, junior Marquez Stevenson has hauled in 24 catches for 298 yards and touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, junior nickel back Grant Stuard has emerged as candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in the AAC, leading the conference in tackles per game, solo tackles and total tackles.
1. Houston has won 10 of its last 11 conference home openers.
2. Bearcats running back Michael Warren is the 13th player in school history to rush for 2,000 career yards.
3. Cincinnati has held opponents to 24 points or fewer in all four of its wins.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati 35, Houston 24