CINCINNATI, Ohio – Cincinnati is riding a six-game winning streak and has its eyes on a bid to the Cotton Bowl, but the Bearcats will not be looking past a struggling opponent that has beaten only one FBS team in more than two years. The 17th-ranked Bearcats aim to remain perfect in American Athletic Conference play when they host lowly Connecticut on Saturday afternoon in their homecoming game.
TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network. LINE: Cincinnati -35
Overconfidence will not be an issue after Cincinnati had to stage a furious rally and needed a last-second field goal last week in a 46-43 win at East Carolina, another team that is winless in league play. "We showed a lot of heart," coach Luke Fickell said after his club erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to stay atop the AAC East Division. "We're going to be a lot better because of this game. We're going to be a lot tighter because of this game. This is going to give us a lot more opportunities." One week after halting a 22-game FBS slide at Massachusetts, the Huskies were overwhelmed by AAC West-leading Navy 56-10 to absorb their 16th conference loss in a row. "The schedule is what it is," Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said. "That's where it should help these guys moving forward. You see what you're playing and now you have to step it up and do things to get yourself to that level."
ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2-7, 0-5 AAC)
The Huskies surrendered 408 yards on the ground to Navy, the No. 1 rushing team in the nation, and will be further tested after Cincinnati ran for 326 yards last week. “We want to play the best in order to get better,” said freshman quarterback Jack Zergiotis, who has four TDs and four picks in his last three games. UConn’s best hope is to lean on Kevin Mensah, who eclipsed 100 yards for the fourth time this season with 107 yards against Navy after piling up 164 yards and five scores the previous week versus UMass.
ABOUT CINCINNATI (7-1, 4-0)
Quarterback Desmond Ridder, who threw for 161 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 146 yards in last week’s comeback win, sparked a 49-7 rout of Connecticut a year ago by accounting for three scores (2 passing, 1 rushing) and passing for 270 yards. Michael Warren II, a 1,300-yard rusher last year, rumbled for a season-high 141 yards and three touchdowns against East Carolina and also went over 100 yards and scored twice against the Huskies in 2018. Cincinnati had held four opponents to 14 points or fewer before allowing 535 yards passing last weekend.
1. Cincinnati has won 11 straight overall at home and seven of the past eight versus UConn, but squeaked past the Huskies 22-21 at home two years ago.
2. Mensah was limited to 25 yards rushing on 15 carries by Cincinnati last year.
3. Bearcats CB Ahmad Gardner has returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns this season.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati 48, Connecticut 14