Cincinnati is coming off of a win against a ranked opponent, while USF is coming off of a loss to one.
The undefeated Bearcats have played one FCS opponent and one ranked opponent, and outscored both by a combined 79-30. The Bulls have had no such luck. In their two games this year, they defeated the Citadel 37-6, but were shutout 52-0 by Notre Dame.
Conference play begins for both Cincinnati and USF as their third week goes underway.
It seems like a team that went 4-8 last season and is under a new head coach will be an easy opponent. But they took Cincinnati to the very last second in their 2019 matchup. USF jumped out to a 17-7 lead by the third quarter, and Sam Crosa had to win the game with a field goal as time expired.
Here’s what to expect against USF, and what Cincinnati will have to do to avoid another close game.
Cincinnati vs. USF Preview
Against he Citadel, in a game that should not have been competitive, McCloud had only 16 passes for 68 yards. He had 14 attempts and 68 yards in South Bend last week.
McCloud only had 224 attempts in 2019. That would only take Ridder four more games to surpass at his current pace. McCloud passed for 1429 yards, 12 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Passing is not USF’s strength.
Rushing is a different story. The Bulls have three players with 10 or more carries, and they average a combined 8.7 yards per carry. Kelley Joiner Jr. is the team leader in carries, and Johnny Ford is the team leader in rushing yards.
Noah Johnson is the backup quarterback, but he has 16 passes and 13 carries. If he’s in the game, he’s as much a threat to run as he is to throw.
USF gains far more yardage on the ground than through the air. The Bulls average only 135 passing yards through two games, while averaging 204 rushing yards.
The bad news for USF is that Cincinnati proved how disciplined they are against the run when they played Army.
If Cincinnati can take an early lead and force USF into passing situations, they can easily close out the game.
Last year when they met, Cincinnati gave up the early lead. That almost cost them the game.
It’s difficult to judge where USF stands defensively because of their wacky schedule. One game was against a triple-option FCS team. The other game was against the seventh ranked team in the country.
Against Notre Dame, USF’s defensive line got absolutely no push. They generate no pressure on the pass and no penetration against the run.
If Cincinnati controls the line of scrimmage like Notre Dame, it will be another long game for USF.