Cincinnati will be seeking out their ninth win this Saturday evening at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. The Bearcats will be facing off against the University of South Florida Bulls, who have struggled to a 4-5 start this season.
Most college football pundits placed Charlie Strong’s club near the top of their preseason conference projections. Things haven’t worked out that way.
South Florida has struggled on both sides of the ball, failing to move the consistently against any opponents which put up much of a defensive struggle. The Bulls are 11th in the AAC in both scoring offense and total offense.
Similarly, they have struggled to stop any offense with a pulse and are currently ranked 7th in the AAC in total defense.
The Bulls have been legitimately blown out on three occasions. Navy, SMU, and Wisconsin all beat USF by more than four touchdowns.
The USF offense is led by talented, mobile freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud, who has started the last seven games. McCloud has completed nearly sixty percent of his passes, throwing for 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. USF lacks a big-time, big-play target but McCloud has performed admirably in spite of this.
McCloud has been supported by a multi-headed, modest running attack. Senior Jordan Cronkite, who has been averaging nearly 75 yards per game, has been their leading rusher. Cronkite, who gained more than 1,100 yards in 2018, has been stymied in 2019 in part by USF’s inability to getting a sustained push on the offensive front.
On the defensive side of the ball, USF has significant talent. Senior linebacker Patrick Macon is one of the AAC’s leading tacklers, posting 67 stops over nine games. Sophomore linebacker Dwayne Boyles has also been an effective run-stopper. Sophomore cornerback Nick Roberts has been a steady pass defender all season. Nevertheless, USF’s defense, as a whole, has failed to stop high-powered offenses of all kinds, both pass-happy clubs like SMU and ground-and-pound juggernauts like Wisconsin and Navy.
There is no reason that Cincinnati should not be able to impose its will in similar fashion on Saturday night.