Bearcats Football Game Preview: #24 Cincinnati Hosts South Florida Bulls for Homecoming

October 06, 2022

CINCINNATI – The No. 24-ranked Cincinnati football team returns home on Saturday looking to extend a number of streaks against South Florida at 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+) in a homecoming matchup inside Nippert Stadium.

UC will look to extend its home winning streak to an astounding 30 games while winning its 18th consecutive game versus American Athletic Conference opponents and its 37th straight matchup versus unranked opponents.

Additionally, the Bearcats will look to win their 53rd game under head coach Luke Fickell, which would tie the sixth-year coach with Rick Minter for the most wins in program history.

The game is sold out, Nippert Stadium will be packed, the atmosphere will be electric and the Bearcats will be ready for a talented USF team that appears better than its 1-4 record so far.

“We are excited about getting back home this week, which obviously is great for us,” Fickell said. “It’s homecoming weekend, which is exciting, there is a little bit more energy and excitement on campus and it is where we feel most comfortable, so we expect a great atmosphere on Saturday. I expect a team (USF) that will come back in here, fighting, scratching, clawing, that’s what we would expect. They have a lot of talent, speed, I think on both sides of the football. Their return game is really special at times, so we have to be really prepared.”
Despite losing six starters to the NFL draft this spring, the Red & Black defense continues to be among the nation’s best.

Led by linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. and a deep defensive line, Cincinnati leads the nation in tackles for loss (50), sacks (23) and defensive touchdowns (four).

The Bearcats had 11 sacks to tie a six-year-old AAC record at Tulsa as well as 15 TFLs – the most by a UC team in 20 years.

Impressively, 12 different defensive players have at least one sack.

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Cincinnati welcomes USF for a 2:30 p.m. homecoming game on Saturday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ with Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Taylor McHargue (analyst) on the call.

On radio, Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Jim Kelly, Jr. (analyst) are on the call for the Bearcats Sports Network. The game will be broadcast on 700 WLW.

FICKELL LOOKS TO TIE MINTER FOR MOST WINS IN UC HISTORY
Fickell’s 52 wins place him one away from tying Rick Minter as the winningest coach in Cincinnati football history.

Most wins in Cincinnati history
Record            Coach
53-63-1           Rick Minter (10 seasons)
52-16               Luke Fickell (six seasons)

LAST TIME OUT: AT TULSA
The Bearcats are coming off a 31-21 victory on the road at Tulsa where they tied an AAC-record with 11 sacks, terrorizing Hurricane QB Davis Brin, who entered the game averaging more than 350 pass yards per game, to just 237 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. UC’s 11 sacks were the most for UC since 2007 and the 15 TFLs were the most since 2002.

Cincinnati also got two fourth-down touchdowns from RB Corey Kiner and TE Josh Whyle as UC went 3-fo-3 on fourth down conversions in the conference-opening win.

Kiner recorded his first career 100-yard rushing game (12-106) and scored a touchdown for the fifth straight game.

UC’s defense was led by DT Jabari Taylor (2.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs), LB Deshawn Pace (pick-six, sack) and S Ja’Von Hicks (INT, 3 PBUs).

THE OPPONENT: USF BULLS
USF is 1-4 this season and the Bulls are coming off a 48-28 loss against East Carolina in Boca Raton on Saturday. The Bulls did play Florida close, losing 31-28, in Gainesville earlier this season.

Cincinnati is 12-7 all-time against USF, including 7-2 at home. The Bearcats have won four straight against the Bulls.

The Bearcats won 45-28 in 2021 in Tampa as quarterback Desmond Ridder set a new school record for career touchdown passes on a catch by tight end Josh Whyle. Ridder finished 31-for-39 for 304 yards and two touchdowns. He also added for a season-high 65 yards on the ground and another score. Ryan Montgomery rushed 72 yards and two touchdowns. Ty Van Fossen recorded a team-high seven solo tackles, three for loss, and a sack, while Ahmad Gardner secured his third interception of the season.

BLACKCATS DEFENSE LEADING THE NATION IN SACKS, TFLS AND DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS
No defense in the country is wreaking more havoc with big plays than the Bearcats.

Cincinnati leads the nation in sacks (23), TFLs (50) and defensive touchdowns (4).

The Bearcats’ 11 sacks at Tulsa are the most against an FBS team this season and tied the AAC record.

Cincinnati is fifth in the nation in yards per play allowed (3.88) and No. 22 in overall total defense (303.2).

‘FIREBALL’ IVAN SETS THE PACE
Pace Jr. leads the country in tackles for loss with 13.5 – four more than the next closest player. The Cincinnati Colerain HS product also ranks No. 2 nationally in sacks (6.0) and No. 5 in tackles (11.2 per game).

Pace Jr. is closing in on the Top 10 in single-season school history in TFLs (17.5) and sacks (8.0).

In his last game at Nippert, he was outstanding against Indiana, tallying 15 tackles, 4.5 TFLs (fifth-most in UC history), 2.5 sacks and three QB hurries en route to AAC Defensive Player of the Week and Bednarik National Player of the Week honors.

PFF College rates him as the country’s top linebacker with a 92.7 rating – highest of any player at the position in the nation. PFF charts Pace Jr. as having 28 QB hits this season – the most of any player in the nation.

He’s a fireball,” Luke Fickell said. “He goes. I think we are going to continue to use him in different ways but find ways that we can kind of let him go, that’s where he’s dynamic. We’re glad we got him.”

ODDS & ENDS …
Corey Kiner’s 106 rushing yards at Tulsa marked the third different UC running back to rush for 100-yards in a game through five games in 2022, joining Charles McClelland and Myles Montgomery. The last time three different UC running backs each had 100-yard games in a season came in 2018 (Michael Warren, Tavion Thomas, McClelland).

WR Tyler Scott has six TD receptions to lead the AAC and rank sixth in the nation. The speedster has a TD catch in four straight games. He had 10 catches for 185 yards and three TDs vs. Indiana en route to AAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Scott will look to become the first Bearcat since Armon Binns and Mardy Gilyard in 2009 to have a touchdown catch in five straight games.

Mason Fletcher ranks fifth in the nation in punting average (46.6) and already has 11 punts inside the 20. Fletcher was named the Ray Guy National Punter of the Week on Tuesday.

QB Ben Bryant’s 13 TD passes is tied for 14th in the nation, while his 276.6 ypg ranks 27th.

Backup DT Dontay Corleone is the fifth-rated defender (90.7 grade) in FBS according to PFF College.

NUMBERS AND NOTES …
Four-year Cincinnati football student-athletes have a 100% graduation rate under head coach Luke Fickell.

UC has won a league title seven times in the last 14 years and has played in 12 bowl games in the past 15 years.

Cincinnati is 654-596-50 (.522) all-time.

UC is playing its 135th football season in 2022. The Bearcats program dates to 1885 and is one of the 10 oldest in the FBS.

ODDS & ENDS …
Corey Kiner’s 106 rushing yards at Tulsa marked the third different UC running back to rush for 100-yards in a game through five games in 2022, joining Charles McClelland and Myles Montgomery. The last time three different UC running backs each had 100-yard games in a season came in 2018 (Michael Warren, Tavion Thomas, McClelland).

WR Tyler Scott has six TD receptions to lead the AAC and rank sixth in the nation. The speedster has a TD catch in four straight games. He had 10 catches for 185 yards and three TDs vs. Indiana en route to AAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Scott will look to become the first Bearcat since Armon Binns and Mardy Gilyard in 2009 to have a touchdown catch in five straight games.

Mason Fletcher ranks fifth in the nation in punting average (46.6) and already has 11 punts inside the 20. Fletcher was named the Ray Guy National Punter of the Week on Tuesday.

QB Ben Bryant’s 13 TD passes is tied for 14th in the nation, while his 276.6 ypg ranks 27th.

Backup DT Dontay Corleone is the fifth-rated defender (90.7 grade) in FBS according to PFF College.

NUMBERS AND NOTES …
Four-year Cincinnati football student-athletes have a 100% graduation rate under head coach Luke Fickell.

UC has won a league title seven times in the last 14 years and has played in 12 bowl games in the past 15 years.

Cincinnati is 654-596-50 (.522) all-time.

UC is playing its 135th football season in 2022. The Bearcats program dates to 1885 and is one of the 10 oldest in the FBS.

COURTESY UC SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS

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