Ben Mauk threw for two touchdowns Thursday night in a triumphant comeback from injuries, and Marshwan Gilyard, caught a scoring pass in a comeback of his own, as Cincinnati beat Southeast Missouri State 59-3 in the debut of coach Brian Kelly's Cat Attack.
Cincinnati (1-0) had one of the top offensive showings in school history, setting up its most lopsided victory since a 63-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 1977. Mauk put the Bearcats in control, completing 18-of-27 for 244 yards with one interception in less than three quarters.
The Bearcats piled up 615 yards, third-most in school history.
It was Cincinnati's first regular-season game under Kelly, who led the Bearcats to the International Bowl victory and then started installing his no-huddle scheme in its entirety.
Kelly needed a quarterback who could make his five-receiver sets work. He found one in Mauk, a former Ohio Mr. Football who kept the Bearcats on the move against Southeast Missouri State (0-1).
The Bearcats are now 7-0 against Ohio Valley Conference teams.
The opener drew 20,223 fans.
Mauk started Wake Forest's opener last season and suffered season-ending injuries while trying to recover a fumble. He collected his undergraduate degree and came to Cincinnati for his graduate work and another chance to run an offense.
Mauk won a three-way competition for the starting job because of his comfort in the five-receiver sets. He smoothly blended down-the-field throws, shovel passes and quarterback draws. By halftime, the Bearcats had 373 yards and led 19-3 - a missed field goal and two missed extra points kept the score down.
Early in the second quarter, Mauk uncorked a 56-yard touchdown pass to Marshwan Gilyard, who beat a defender down the right sideline.
Butler Benton ran for 101 yards and scored twice, once on a 13-yard pass from Mauk. Cincinnati pulled away with the help of four fumbles and two interceptions.
Returning all-BIG EAST cornerback Mike Mickens intercepted Victor Anderson's pass in the end zone to end one early threat. Mickens later picked off a pass by Houston Lillard - the Redhawks' other quarterback - and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
Bradley Glatthaar r crossed the goal line from one yard out with 10:26 left in the third quarter to make it a 32-3 game.
Tony Pike relieved Mauk and quickly directed Cincinnati to scores on his first two drives. Pike finished the night 6-of-9 for 57 yards and a touchdown when he hit Ben Guidugli on a bootleg from seven yards.
Jacob Ramsey carried the ball 16 times for 76 yards in the second half. Ramsey scored on a one-yard run and a 15-yarder to cap the scoring for the Bearcats.