When the Bulls looked threatening in the 4-th quarter the Bearcats came up huge with major stops in the red zone on forth down.
Tony Pike still wearing his soft cast went 20-28 with 2TDs and 1INT. The running backs got their fill today with 37 rushes for 115 yards.
The game started off unsteady with Ramsey fumbling at midfield giving South Florida great attacking field position. The Bulls drove the ball down to the UC 40 yard line and were put into an obvious passing situation on 3-rd and 12. The defensive ends pinned their ears back and put serious heat on USF's quarterback Matt Grothe, who tried to throw while being hit and found Mike Mickens instead of his receiver.
Mickens returned the ball 58 yards before being wrestled down by Grothe at the USF 14. The momentum shifted at this point and the ‘Cats drove it down to the 2 yard line and finally punched it in through the powerful legs of 6-1/225 sophomore running back John Goebel.
The ensuing drive saw Grothe put a high ball in the air towards receiver Carlton Mitchell in double coverage. Mitchell would come down with the ball as Aaron Webster got caught looking for the interception instead of making the play. The play would give the Bulls a 47 yard completion and set up a big run by the Bulls.
The next play saw Moise Plancher run 32 yards straight up the middle and get stopped on the 1-yard line with an ankle tap tackle by Ryan Manalac. Plancher would not be denied a second time as he punched the ball in the end zone the very next play giving the ranked Bulls thoughts of leaving Nippert with a victory.
The next few passages of play saw the Bearcats start to get their no huddle spread offense rolling and proving that they are lethal from just about anywhere. UC forced a punt and started at their 9 yard line.
With a fair amount of ease, the Bearcats drove the ball down to the USF 16 yard line. A holding penalty backed the ‘Cats up to the 26. The next play Tony Pike threw a short pass to Gilyard who turned into a big play by running untouched into the end zone.
The defense shut down the Bulls on their next possession forcing a punt, which was called a fair catch at the UC 20. The Bearcats started to drive down the field but it was cut short by Sabbath Joseph who intercepted the ball and returned it to the UC 43 yard line.
It was here that USF looked threatening and started to piece together a good drive when Connor Barwin put pressure on Grothe and tipped a pass that was intercepted by Lamonte Nelms.
John Goebel would lose a fumble on the possession and each team was content enough to go to the locker room 17-7 in favor of the home team at the half.
Both offenses came out stagnant in the second half and it was up to the defense to set the tone and create opportunities for Pike and the offense. The only scoring in the third quarter came from USF's Maikon Bonani who kicked a 47 yarder to make the score 17-10.
In the fourth quarter UC struck first with a play action pass. Pike found tight end turned defensive end Connor Barwin in the corner of the end zone for a 1-yard score and the Bearcats never looked back as they took a 24-10 advantage.
Brian Kelly was happy enough to keep the score exactly they way it was choosing to go conservative on offense by running the ball and the clock. This tactic was helped by two huge stops by the Bearcats defense in the Bulls red zone on forth down.
One thing is for sure. This was a different team than those who took the field on last Saturday. This team had a dominating defense and an offense that looked like it was not resting on the shoulders of a young man with a broken arm. At the end of the game Kelly found room to play red-shirt freshman Zach Collaros, who took the knee for the last play of the game.
If someone had said that after the tough loss to UCONN the Bearcats would beat USF in dominating fashion, forcing Grothe into 3 turnovers and handling their defense in a matter most impressive no one would have believed it.
The University of Cincinnati Bearcats now has that signature win against a ranked opponent that they have been searching for this season. If they win against West Virginia on November 8-th they will certainly be among the nations top 25 in the BCS rankings.
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