TAMPA, Fla. – With just three games remaining, the American Athletic Conference Championship Game is in sight for No. 17 Cincinnati, which is riding a seven-game winning streak and is the only undefeated team in league play. The Bearcats can clinch at least a share of the AAC East title with a win at South Florida on Saturday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Cincinnati -14.
After barely squeaking out a win against East Carolina, Cincinnati pummeled Connecticut 48-3 last weekend behind stellar defensive play. The Bearcats could be in line for a repeat as South Florida has failed to eclipse double-digits points in two of its last three games, with the exception of a 45-point outburst against East Carolina. The Bearcats aren’t looking long-term, as head coach Luke Fickell stressed the importance of winning this week’s matchup. "When we go on the road, what it’s like, and we talked before about your opponent and the respect you’ve got to have for energy and momentum within a game,” Fickell told Cincinnati.com
ABOUT CINCINNATI (8-1, 5-0 AAC)
Quarterback Desmond Ridder did his job against UConn, tossing two touchdown passes without turning the ball over. While throwing for just 136 yards, he added 94 rushing yards on just seven carries, pairing with junior running back Gerrid Doaks’ 123 yards and a score. Graduate-student tight end Josiah Deguara has emerged as a favorite target of Ridder of late, hauling in three touchdowns in the last two contests.
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (4-5, 2-3)
The story of the season for the Bulls has been trouble on offense, exacerbated in their 17-7 loss to Temple. Though quarterback Jordan McCloud had a career-high 225 passing yards, he was sacked 10 times and the team only rushed for 61 yards. However, the defense has been much better with eight different players recording an interception and the same number forcing a fumble, with junior defensive back KJ Sails having recorded two interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries on the season.
1. In the last five meetings where one of the teams was ranked, the ranked team won three times.
2. Cincinnati is tied for third in the nation in turnovers gained (21).
3. South Florida has a takeaway in every game this season.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati 35, South Florida 14