Nov 25, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Tulane Green Wave running back Tyjae Spears (22) runs for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Tulane tops No. 24 Cincinnati to reach AAC title game

Tyjae Spears rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and No. 19 Tulane defeated host and No. 24 Cincinnati 27-24 to win the American Athletic Conference regular-season title Friday afternoon.

Spears had his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game and eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season as the Green Wave (10-2, 7-1) earned the host spot in the AAC championship game Dec. 3.

Michael Pratt added a 30-yard touchdown pass to Duece Watts that provided the winning points with 5:10 left.

Evan Prater made his first start at quarterback for Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2) in place of injured Ben Bryant. Prater completed 10 of 26 for 102 yards and an interception as the two-time defending conference champion Bearcats saw their 32-game home winning streak end.

Tulane notched the first turnover of the game in the third quarter when Dorian Williams snared a tipped pass from Prater at the Cincinnati 40.

The Green Wave converted a fourth and 3 from the 6 when the Bearcats were called for pass interference. On the next play Spears ran 2 yards for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead.

On the ensuing possession Cincinnati converted a fourth and 1 on its way to Ryan Montgomery’s 8-yard touchdown run that trimmed the lead to 20-17 at the end of the third.

The Bearcats converted two fourth downs on its way to Montgomery’s 15-yard touchdown run that briefly gave them their first lead at 24-20 with 6:27 left.

The Green Wave needed just three plays to set up Pratt’s game-winner to Watts.

Valentino Ambrosio kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 Tulane lead that held up through the end of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Ryan Coe kicked a 28-yard field goal that tied the score.

Spears ran 11 yards for the game’s first touchdown, giving the Green Wave a 10-3 lead.

On the ensuing possession, the Bearcats’ Charles McClelland ran 35 yards for a tying touchdown.

Ambrosio kicked a career-long 47-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to give Tulane a 13-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Temple Owls wide receiver Jose Barbon (10) is tackled by Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Arquon Bush (9) after a catch during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Cincinnati uses big plays early to bury Temple

Ben Bryant and Tre Tucker hooked up for an early 42-yard touchdown pass as No. 25 Cincinnati rolled over host Temple 23-3 on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Ryan Montgomery added a TD run for the Bearcats (9-2, 6-1 American Athletic Association), who sit in a first-place tie with Tulane with one week left in the regular season.

Bryant went 9 of 18 for 130 yards without a turnover before leaving with a foot injury in the second quarter. Evan Prater came on and completed 12-of-17 passes for 127 yards while also playing turnover-free football.

The Owls (3-8, 1-6), meanwhile, committed four turnovers and were outgained 388-202 on the day. E.J. Warner went 21 of 36 for 167 yards with two interceptions, while Temple failed to gain more than nine yards on any of its 19 rushing attempts.

Cincinnati suffocated Temple in the first half, holding the Owls to 106 total yards, including seven yards on nine rushes.

Temple punted on its first three possessions before the Bearcats opened the scoring on Bryant’s 42-yard TD bomb to Tucker, who snuck behind two defenders for the score with 1:19 to play in the first quarter.

Edward Saydee fumbled on the Owls’ next play, and the Bearcats recovered. Three plays later, Montgomery slipped through the teeth of the Temple defense for a 14-yard TD run.

Cincinnati tacked on a 28-yard field goal by Ryan Coe on its next possession to take a 17-0 lead with 9:55 remaining until halftime. About 1 1/2 minutes later, Temple got on the board with a field goal of its own — a 43-yarder by Camden Price.

Coe accounted for all the second-half scoring with a 37-yard field goal midway through the third quarter and a 24-yard boot early in the fourth.

The Owls only possessed the ball four times in the second half. Those trips ended in two punts, an interception and a fumble.

Montgomery finished with 14 carries for 58 yards, while Tucker secured four receptions for 78 yards. Tight end Josh Whyle led the Bearcats with seven catches, totaling 70 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats running back Charles McClelland (10) runs with the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Cincinnati, UCF try to tamp down ‘self-inflicted’ errors

No. 20 Cincinnati has passed all its tests since a season-opening loss at Arkansas, but it has not always been pretty.

Next up, the Bearcats will face perhaps their toughest test since Week 1 on Saturday when they travel to Orlando to take on UCF.

A week after rallying to beat South Florida 28-24 on Oct. 8, Cincinnati (6-1, 3-0 AAC) fended off SMU 29-27 last week. The Bearcats led by 15 points after three quarters, but the Mustangs came within a two-point conversion of tying the game with less than two minutes left.

SMU benefited from 14 Cincinnati penalties for 128 yards.

“We’ve got a lot of self-inflicted issues, and that’s not taking any credit away from the guys we’ve played,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “We had some issues on false starts again. … We know that those self-inflicted ones that we always talk about are the things that are in some ways holding us back and putting us in some situations that are draining, challenging, trying.”

The Bearcats have won three straight meetings with UCF (5-2, 2-1) for a 4-3 edge in the all-time series. But it was the Knights who gave them their biggest scare in 2020, the first of two straight years they finished the regular season undefeated.

UCF led Cincinnati 14-3 after one quarter and 25-22 after three the last time the Bearcats visited Orlando. Then-quarterback Desmond Ridder helped Cincinnati escape with a 36-33 win.

“It’s gonna be uniquely different this week,” Fickell said of visiting the stadium known as “the Bounce House,” FBC Mortgage Stadium.

“This is our first true challenge since Week 1 to go on the road in a hostile environment and play a great football team. Not taking anything away, like I said, from the teams we played on the road. They haven’t been hostile environments since Week 1, and this will be that.”

Since taking over UCF in 2021, coach Gus Malzahn has praised Cincinnati as one of the best teams in the country, not just the conference. The Knights have a potent offense, but Malzahn was quick to note that the Bearcats lead FBS in both sacks per game (4.14) and tackles for loss per game (9.3).

“Very aggressive defense,” Malzahn said. “They really challenge you and play a lot of man. Then they’ll pressure you and play some zone. Offensively they’re very strong up front, they run the ball, they’ve been balanced. Just overall a complete football team.”

UCF has a top-20 scoring offense in the country (37.3 points per game), aided by a 70-13 rout of Temple two weeks ago. But they are coming off a 34-13 road loss to East Carolina.

Dynamic dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee had his worst outing of the year. He threw for 296 yards against East Carolina but tossed three interceptions without a touchdown. He was also held to 38 rushing yards on 2.7 per carry.

“We weren’t able to get off the field. They punted one time all night,” Malzahn said of East Carolina. “We turned the ball over three times. You’re not going to beat any quality team like that. So it’s really, you just said it, self-inflicted wounds. To have a chance to beat a team like Cincinnati, it’s common sense — you can’t do that.”

Running back Charles McClelland headlines the Cincinnati offense. He has rushed for 308 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries over the past two weeks.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Jadon Thompson (20) is tackled by Southern Methodist Mustangs safety Ahmaad Moses (16) in the second quarter of the American Athletic Conference game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022.

Cincinnati Bearcats At Southern Methodist Mustangs 463

No. 21 Cincinnati holds off SMU comeback attempt

Charles McClelland rushed for 129 yards on 16 carries and No. 21 Cincinnati survived a late comeback to take down SMU 29-27 on Saturday in Dallas to win its sixth straight game.

Trailing 29-14, SMU (3-4, 1-2 American Athletic Conference) made it a one-possession game when Preston Stone found RJ Maryland for a 16-yard touchdown with 5:09 left to play.

The Mustangs then forced a three-and-out and drove 82 yards in nine plays, with Tyler Lavine scoring from 1 yard out to make it 29-27. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Cincinnati (6-1, 3-0) ran out the clock to hold on.

McClelland gained the majority of his yardage on a 76-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, which was the longest run of his career. Ryan Montgomery also scored on the ground for the Bearcats, who have now won six of their seven all-time meetings with SMU.

Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant completed 18 of 35 passes for 200 yards, and Jadon Thompson hauled in four passes for 69 yards. The Bearcats outgained the Mustangs 379-259.

Tanner Mordecai threw for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception on 15-for-25 passing for SMU (3-4, 1-2). He exited with an undisclosed injury in the third quarter, and Stone took over and threw for 74 yards and a touchdown.

McClelland broke things open early in the second, slicing through the left side of the defense to the end zone for a 17-0 Bearcats lead.

After Cincinnati failed to convert a fourth-and-1, Mordecai connected with Jordan Kerley for a 43-yard gain and TJ McDaniel dashed for a 3-yard touchdown to pull the Mustangs within 17-7.

The Bearcats answered with a 25-yard field goal from Ryan Coe, but Mordecai found Kerley for a 1-yard TD to cap a 13-play, 77-yard drive to make it 20-14 heading into the break.

Coe made good on field goals of 52, 44 and 31 yards coming out of halftime to extend the lead to 15.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Wilson Huber (2) sacks South Florida Bulls quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 Cincinnati sweats out home win over USF

Charles McClelland ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and No. 24 Cincinnati sweated out a 28-24 victory over visiting South Florida on Saturday.

McClelland ran in his second touchdown from 35 yards out in the fourth quarter to make the difference.

Cincinnati (5-1, 2-0 AAC) trailed 17-14 at halftime but still pulled out its 30th straight win at home and its 18th straight win over a conference opponent.

Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant was 15-for-21 passing for 178 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions before leaving in the fourth quarter with an unspecified injury.

South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon completed 10 of 20 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns to Xavier Weaver. Bohanon added 117 rushing yards to lead the Bulls (1-5, 0-2 AAC).

The Bulls opened the game with an 11-play, 75-yard drive. Brian Battie gained 31 yards on five carries, culminating with a 22-yard touchdown scamper.

Bryant went deep on the Bearcats’ first play on offense, and Aamaris Brown came up with a leaping interception. That led to Spencer Shrader’s 21-yard field goal for a 10-0 South Florida lead.

The Bearcats answered with a quick 75-yard drive in just six plays and 2:31 of game time. Jadon Thompson made three tacklers miss on a 28-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the quarter.

Bryant hooked up with Nick Mardner for a 14-yard touchdown to give Cincinnati its first lead of the day with 10:27 left in the half. But the Bulls came back with another 75-yard drive, with Bohanon finding Weaver for a 9-yard score to give them a 17-14 lead that stood up at halftime.

Cincinnati started the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard drive and McClelland dove in from a yard out to put them back in front, 21-17.

The sides traded punts, and South Florida stuffed Cincinnati on a fourth-and-1 attempt at the Bulls’ 12-yard line. On the next play, Bohanon broke off a 52-yard run up the left sideline.

That set up his 16-yard touchdown pass to Weaver on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving the Bulls a 24-21 lead.

McClelland had a wide running lane for his 35-yard touchdown with 9:24 to play.

The Bearcats’ defense swallowed up Battie on a South Florida fourth-and-1 attempt, and Cincinnati managed to run down the rest of the clock.
The Bearcats were also without running back Corey Kiner, who was scratched due to a hand injury.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Alec Pierce (12) catches a short pass in the second quarter of the NCAA football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Cincinnati Bearcats at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

Syndication The Enquirer

Ben Bryant’s four TD passes propel Cincinnati over Indiana

Ben Bryant threw four touchdowns in a dominant first half and host Cincinnati rolled to a 45-24 victory over previously unbeaten Indiana on Saturday.

Bryant completed 24 of 40 passes for a career-best 354 yards. He threw three of his four TDs to Tyler Scott and also recorded his third 300-yard passing performance since joining Cincinnati as a transfer from Eastern Michigan after last season.

Scott finished with career highs of 10 receptions for 185 yards. Scott had a 75-yard TD in the first quarter before hauling in a 34-yard scoring pass and a 32-yard TD pass in a span of 4:01 when Cincinnati (3-1) scored three times in the final 4:33 before halftime.

The Bearcats won their third straight and got their second straight win over Indiana in the first meeting in Cincinnati between the schools since 1998.

Indiana’s Connor Bazelak, who began Saturday with the second-lowest completion rate (56.6) in the Big Ten, completed 31 of 66 passes and threw two TD along with two interceptions. He threw over 50 times for the third time in four games.

Indiana running back Shaun Shivers ran 19 times for 79 yards and had a pair of TDs, including a 47-yard rushing score early in the fourth quarter as the Hoosiers (3-1) tried to stage a fourth straight comeback.

After Bryon Threats intercepted Bazelak and returned it 28 yards, the Bearcats took a 3-0 lead on Ryan Coe’s 24-yard field goal with six minutes remaining in the first. Indiana got inside the red zone a little over four minutes later and tied it on a 27-yard field goal by Charles Campbell

Bryant found Scott for their first TD with one minute left in the first and connected with Tre Tucker for a 5-yard TD with about 12:36 minutes to go in the second for a 17-3 lead. Josh Henderson’s 19-yard TD got Indiana within 17-10 midway through the second but the Bearcats began dominating and took a 38-10 lead when Bazelak was sacked by Eric Phillips for an 11-yard loss, fumbled and it was recovered by Dominique Perry for a 14-yard TD with 22 seconds left in the half.

Shivers brought Indiana within 38-17 when he caught a 2-yard pass with 10:23 left in the third before getting his second TD 59 seconds into the fourth.

–Field Level Media

Indiana's Connor Bazelak (9) avoids the sack during the Indiana versus Western Kentucky football game at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.

Iu Wk Fb 2h Bazelak 1

At Cincinnati, resilient Indiana aims for 4-0 start

Indiana is among 33 unbeaten teams and needed three comebacks to keep its record unblemished.

Coming off a nightmarish 10-loss season, a quick start is exactly what Indiana needed but staying unbeaten may prove difficult Saturday when the Hoosiers visit Cincinnati for their final nonconference game.

“Our guys are excited about that,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said of facing a 2021 playoff team. “They do understand that. Our preparation has to reflect that. It’s on our team, the leaders of this team. Talk about guys in those roles right now and that leadership has to elevate itself this week as we continue to grow.”

Indiana (3-0) is seeking a 4-0 start for the second time in three seasons but those quick starts are sandwiched around a 2-10 campaign.

Indiana scored the game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds left to beat Illinois in its season opener, then overcame an early 10-point deficit to beat Idaho in Week 2. Last week, the Hoosiers erased an eight-point deficit, scoring the tying TD with 47 seconds left and kicking the game-winning 51-yard field goal in overtime for a 33-30 win over visiting Western Kentucky.

The rallies have forced Indiana to constantly use its passing game as Connor Bazelak completed 34 of 55 passes for 364 yards last week. His 56.6 percent completion rate is the second-lowest in the Big Ten.

Cincinnati (2-1) is averaging 41.7 points per game and its 17 touchdowns are the most in the AAC. After opening with a 31-24 loss at Arkansas, the Bearcats notched double-digit wins over Kennesaw State and Miami (Ohio).

The Bearcats followed up their 63-10 rout of Kennesaw State by overcoming a 10-point deficit for a 38-17 win over Miami. Ben Bryant threw 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Charles McClelland added 101 yards and two rushing TDs.

“We are figuring out what ‘us’ looks like,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said. “I think there’s a little bit more of a calm nature than last year.”

Indiana leads the all-time series 8-4-2. The schools are meeting in Cincinnati for the first time since 1998. Last season, the Bearcats intercepted Michael Pennix three times and overcame an early 14-point deficit for a 38-24 victory at Indiana.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) and cornerback Coby Bryant (7) react after cornerback Arquon Bush (not pictured) blocked a field goal by the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati CB Ahmad Gardner declares for NFL draft

Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner announced Tuesday he is declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior was a consensus All-American and helped the Bearcats reach the College Football Playoff this season.

“The last three years have been incredible and I’m proud of what I accomplished at the University of Cincinnati,” he wrote on social media. “I’m ready to take the next step and compete in the NFL. I will be forgoing my final year of eligibility and entering the 2022 NFL Draft.

“I’m a Bearcat for life.”

In more than 1,000 career snaps in coverage from 2019-21, Gardner never gave up a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. He finished his career with nine interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.

“I talked things over with my family,” Gardner told Yahoo Sports. “My work at Cincinnati is done. I came in and did everything I was supposed to do. I listened to everything the coaches were telling me to do to get in a better position to take care of my family.”

Gardner is widely projected as a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The last Cincinnati player picked in the opening round was defensive lineman Bob Bell in 1971, going with the 21st overall pick to the Detroit Lions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) runs with the ball in the 3rd quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Cincinnati needs impressive win over SMU in CFP chase

No. 5 Cincinnati can clinch a spot in the American Athletic Conference championship game with a victory against visiting SMU on Saturday.

Of course, as far as the Bearcats (10-0, 6-0 AAC) are concerned, the Mustangs (8-2, 4-2) represent the next obstacle in a bigger pursuit: trying to become the first Group of Five program to earn a College Football Playoff berth since the arrangement began in 2014.

After SMU, the Bearcats end the regular season at East Carolina and could face No. 24 Houston in the conference title game on Dec. 4.

“We’ve got a really tough game this week. We’ve got a really tough game the following week,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said Tuesday. “If we’re fortunate enough to have a third one, we’ll have another really tough one that will give us every opportunity that we want, and I truly believe that.

“I know you’ve got to be in the realm to have any shot, and all we care about is we’re in the realm, and now we’ve got to take care of business.”

Cincinnati can’t afford a slip-up. Not being one of the Power 5 schools leaves the Bearcats needing to not only win but to do so impressively.

SMU looms as a challenge because its offense averages 41.6 points per game, sixth nationally. The Mustangs are led by quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-28 win against UCF last week to end a two-game losing streak.

Those two losses — 44-37 to Houston and 28-25 to Memphis — were on the road, and the Mustangs will face another hostile environment for the Bearcats’ Senior Day.

“If you want to win a championship, you’ve got to play well on the road. I think that’s the deal,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “There’s all these things you’ve got to do, and I think playing well on the road is one of them. If we want to try to keep our championship hopes alive, then we’ve got to go play well Saturday and win the game.

“Our guys are excited,” Dykes added. “They like challenges, and this is obviously a challenge, and it’s a good barometer for us to see where we’re at.”

Cincinnati’s 32 seniors to be honored include quarterback Desmond Ridder, who has a 41-5 record as a starter.

Last week, in a 45-28 win at South Florida, Ridder threw two touchdown passes. The second was the 79th of his career to break a tie with Bearcats quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli for the most in school history.

The senior class is 41-6, and the fifth-year seniors are 45-14 with Ridder sporting a 24-0 record at Nippert Stadium.

“There’s some special people that have done some special things, and I don’t just mean win football games,” Fickell said. “I mean really kind of change the locker room and create an expectation, create a brotherhood and create a lot of amazing things.

“Now, they’ve got to be able to balance emotions. It’s a huge, huge game.”

–Field Level Media