CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati No. 24 have won four in a row after losing early in the season in Arkansas. On Saturday, he will pick up his 30th home win in a row over South Florida. The Bearcats have not lost at home since 2017 and are favorites against the USF. Short of a three-point loss to Florida, the Bulls are down nearly 30 points per game. After a slow start, East Michigan transfer Ben Bryant passed for 1,383 yards and 13 touchdowns to the Cincinnati quarterback. The Bearcats lead the nation with 23 sacks and 50 tackles per loss.
CINCINNATI (AP) — The No. 24's priority this season has been to stop a run that gave up just 36 yards in last week's Tulsa win.
The Bearcats (4-1, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) passed 149 yards per game last season. After allowing 224 in Game 1 against Arkansas, they allowed 78 per game in four games.
"We lost a lot of yards last year so it wasn't our goal to control the line of scrimmage," Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said . "It's about our ability to control the offensive line, stop play on the run, and put ourselves in a better position than we've been in the past two years."
The Bearcats' defense will be tested this week against a South Florida team led by Brian Batey, who averaged 172 yards, 397 yards and three touchdowns and averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
The problem for the Bulls (1-4, 0-1 AAC) is that they're only passing 174 yards per game, and QB Jerry Bohannon has struggled since joining from Baylor. He has only three tackles and six interceptions.
"That didn't happen until the fall, so I think they had a good idea that maybe the first four or five games would be a little bit of progress, " Fickell said. "I believe they have roles and talent."
Talent is no problem for the Bearcats, who have won four in a row after losing 31-24 in 19th in Arkansas.
Eastern Michigan transfer Ben Bryant was Cincinnati's starting quarterback after a slow start, passing for 1,383 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Cincinnati leads the nation with 23 sacks and 50 tackles per loss. The Bearcats' 11 sacks last week against an FBS team in Tulsa was their most this season.
"I think our ability to mix things up has upset the opposition," Fickell said . “We weren't that consistent. We managed to create a gap, create confusion not only for the quarterback, but also for the guys in front.
Barring a three-point loss in Florida, the USF is losing an average of 29 points per game, and the pressure on coach Jeff Scott is mounting.
"No one likes where we are, but we're not going to get where we want by continuing to reboot ," Scott said this week.
We cook at home
The Bearcats, who will play in the Big 12 Conference next season, have won 29 straight games at home and 17 straight wins against the AAC. They have not lost at home this year since beating Temple 35-24 on November 10, 2017. It is the second-longest home streak in the country behind Clemson (37).
"It's a different feeling when we step onto this field, especially at Nippert Stadium, " defender Javon Hicks said. "I don't expect to get lost at home anytime soon."
Evan Pace Jr. scored in Cincinnati after moving from rival Miami (Ohio). Speed leads the nation in tackles per loss and is second in sacks and tackles per game. This is a local product of Coleraine High School.
"There's no denying the fact that Evan Pace Jr. is a good guy who can lead the offense, " Fickell said. “And the more he attacks, the more one-on-one he creates for the guys on the ring and even with nose shields.”
Last week, his brother DeShawn intercepted the ball for 18 yards for the Bearcats.
The victory over USF was Fickell's 53rd in Cincinnati, tying him with Rick Minter for the most in program history. Fickell is in its sixth season. It took Minter 10 seasons to reach this result.
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