November 09, 2021
CINCINNATI – The No. 2-ranked Cincinnati football team will look to start 10-0 for just the second time in school history on Friday night at 6 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., when it faces USF.
The Bearcats (9-0, 5-0 AAC) are in the midst of a condensed week of preparation following last Saturday’s 28-20 victory over Tulsa on Saturday at Nippert Stadium with ESPN College GameDay in town for the first time ever. UC had back-to-back goal line stands at the end of the game to secure the victory with senior LB Joel Dublanko leading the way with a career-best 17 tackles. Senior linebacker Darrian Beavers made a tackle on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to secure the victory. Senior quarterback Desmond Ridder had 317 total yards and three touchdowns.
USF (2-7, 1-4) is coming off a 54-42 loss at Houston last Saturday night. The Bulls led 28-26 at halftime behind two 100-yard kick return touchdowns from freshman Brian Battie, but the Cougars pulled away in the second half as USF allowed 646 yards.
Cincinnati and USF have met 18 times with UC holding a 11-7 advantage with three straight wins.
UC defeated USF, 28-7, at Nippert Stadium in 2020 behind 102 rushing yards and a TD from Gerrid Doaks and a TD from TE Josh Whyle. The Bearcats had five interceptions in the game led by two picks from Coby Bryant and one interception each from Beavers, Ahmad Gardner and Arquon Bush.
Cincinnati won 20-17 in its last trip to Tampa in 2019, overcoming a 10-0 deficit to the Bulls.
Bearcats’ running back Jerome Ford is a Tampa, Fla., native, having starred at Armwood High School before beginning his collegiate career at Alabama. He has 888 rushing yards this fall and ranks No. 3 in the nation with 16 total touchdowns.
RIDDER RECORD WATCH
Senior quarterback Desmond Ridder has 77 career touchdown passes, placing him one TD pass from tying the school record of 78, which is held by current quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Gino Guidugli (2001-04).
BEARCATS IN THE RANKINGS
Cincinnati moved up one spot to No. 5 in the second College Football Playoff Rankings on Tuesday night. The Bearcats are the highest ranked non-Power 5 team in the history of the CFP (since 2014). There will five CFP rankings each Tuesday night in November before the final CFP ranking announcement on Sunday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m.
Cincinnati remained at No. 2 in the AP Poll and dropped one spot to No. 3 in the Coaches’ Poll this week.
WATCH THE TUESDAY FICKELL AND RIDDER PRESS CONFERENCES HERE
Friday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Jason Benetti (PxP), Andre Ware (analyst) and Paul Carcaterra (sideline) on the broadcast. Fans can also listen on the Bearcats Sports Network on 700 WLW-AM and on satellite radio (Sirius Ch. 133, XM 203) with Dan Hoard (PxP) and Jim Kelly Jr. (Analyst) calling the action.
Ridder was named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award on Tuesday. He is also a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and a candidate for the Heisman Trophy and Manning Award. Gardner and Bryant are semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. Gardner is also a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award and Beavers is a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. Junior RB Jerome Ford, a Doak Walker Award candidate, ranks second in the AAC in rushing (98.7 ypg).
CINCINNATI PROVES IT’S ELITE
- UC is one of only three teams in the country that ranks in the Top 15 in scoring offense (38.6 ppg – 13th) and scoring defense (14.9 ppg – 3rd), joining Georgia (14th in scoring offense, 1st in scoring defense) and Coastal Carolina (6th, 13th).
- Cincinnati is 40-6 (.870) since the start of 2018 and sports an 18-1 record (.947) since the start of 2020 with the Bearcats only loss over the last 23 months coming by three points, 24-21, to current-No. 1 Georgia in the 2020 Peach Bowl.
- The Bearcats have jumped out to a 9-0 start in 2021 and own one of the nation’s top resumes thanks to a pair of double-digit road wins over non-conference opponents. UC defeated No. 9 Notre Dame, 24-13, two weeks after taking out IU, 38-24. No SEC team and only one Big 10 team (Purdue) will even play two non-conference road games in 2021.
- UC is the only team with a double-digit victory over a CFP Top 10 team (at No. 10 Notre Dame).
- Defensively, the Bearcats rank No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense (14.9), No. 1 in pass efficiency defense (92.42), No. 2 in opponent completion percentage (52.1%), No. 2 in interceptions (14), No. 4 in yards per play (4.35), No. 2 in TD passes allowed (5) and No. 3 in passing yards allowed (155.4). Cincinnati also ranks No. 2 in red zone defense (57.1%, 16 of 28).
- Offensively, the Bearcats rank No. 1 in 4th down conversions (7-7) and No. 13 in yards/play vs. FBS (6.69).
COURTESY UC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS